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January 9, 2012

A year of updates and some seriously good chicken...

Not too big on posting in 2011, I'm going to try and start up again - I originally started this blog to post updates about our family for those far away and it sort of morphed into a cooking blog when Pipps and I decided to start posting the "good recipes" that I made. We have a few things that make a rotation in our house but mostly it's just me experimenting with food and cooking things from magazines, books and online sites.

Last year brought a big surprise - this guy!

We weren't expecting to be parents again - thought for sure we were done with 4 but it looks like God had other plans for us. Our giant baby boy, who we affectionately call "Cheeks" was born on October 22nd and we all instantly fell madly in love with him. Even Pipps, who is spending a year abroad, loves him.

My pregnancy was long and hard, my labor ridiculously long and hard, and so I hadn't felt up to really being creative in the kitchen since almost a year ago. We ate a lot of take out and noodles with butter and Parmesan and I'm pretty sure we lived on PB&J's this summer. Thankfully my husband took up a big interest in grilling, so that was a life saver.

It's been 11 weeks since Cheeks was born and we're starting to get a handle on things. Sort of. Five kids is a tough gig and somewhat overwhelming at times but slowly and surely, we're figuring it out. My brain is constantly scattered, I start things and never finish them (that's not really new), I struggle to get us out of the house so we're not so cabin-feverish, I do my best. That's all I really can do.

My New Years Resolution, something I never ever do, was to simplify our lives, to slow down, to enjoy these little buggers while they're young and still think we're the most awesome people on the earth. Having a teenager, especially one living abroad, is bittersweet. I'm happy for her and her new experiences but I miss her being a baby and feel like it went by entirely way too fast.

With a newborn and 3 kids under 5 in the house, prepping meals and cooking is difficult. Finding the right window of time between when Daddy gets home, (IF he's home - between work and school we miss him a lot), Cheeks needs to nurse, big kids off to sports and activities...well, it's a small window. Especially if I want to actually sit down and eat with my family instead of nursing as soon as everyone eats (it happens a lot - that kid has impeccable timing!).

Part of simplifying our lives means no more complicated, "fancy", recipes. A short list of ingredients is nice, limited hands on time is a must. Crock pots are sometimes a nice idea, but since my 1970's one broke this fall and I bought a new one, nothing has turned out, so I've sort of ditched it for now...we've been eating a lot of soup. Not homemade. It's been slim pickings around here - lol.

I get a few cooking magazines every month and so I've been bookmarking those and vow to actually cook out of them. The chicken I made last night was AMAZING - and I made enough extra to serve as a base for 2 more meals this week. Plus, it was on sale last week! So Sunday dinner was roast chicken, tonight it's a curried chicken salad with rolls and for tomorrow - green chicken enchiladas with black beans. This recipe will go into our regular rotation although the leftover recipes may change, it was a big enough hit and easy enough that I'll make it every time breasts go on sale.

I adapted this finecooking.com recipe for what I had on hand and to minimize waste - sure, whole fruits are great but do I need to buy them when I already have the juice on hand? Probably not...fresh garlic is lovely too but I find that in roasting, it often burns and gives things a bad taste so I used powdered. Cutting up 2 whole chickens when breasts are on sale for half the price? Well...less work and less money = a very happy girl :) Plus, I really hate cutting up chicken. Yuck.

Anyway, here's my version of the recipe. I have a few more written down in my notebook that I'll be sharing over the next couple days as well - or as Cheeks permits - that little sucker is so sweet but also pretty colicky so I don't get much "hands free" time these days. And that notebook? That's also part of my resolution but I'll update more on that later so this doesn't get too wordy.

Citrus-marinated Roast Chicken Breasts

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 lbs bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts (I had a family pack that was a little over 5lbs and had 5 breasts)
2/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Pour olive oil roasting pan big enough to fit the breasts in a single layer.
Mix together the next 7 ingredients and pour over the chicken breasts, turning to coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours, turning every few hours.

Position rack in the center of the oven and bring to 425.
Turn chicken so they're all skin side up and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.
Roast for 20 mn at 425 and then turn down the heat to 375 and roast 30 mn or until cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to rest.
Meanwhile, pour the pan juice into a fat separator or pot and remove the excess fat - boil over med-high heat until reduced by half, about 1.5 cups, about 10 minutes.
Pour a little over the chicken and serve the rest of it at the table.

We had this with brown and wild rice cooked with chicken stock and saffron, and some Parmesan green beans. It was simple and it was delicious.

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