Spicy chicken salad

July 20, 2012 § 14 Comments

A while back, I was walking with one of my younger brothers and having a conversation.  We were ambling past a variety of food stands and restaurants and the conversation went something like this:

Brother: Oh, they’re using the old sriracha trick.  Classic move.  Nice.  And sriracha mayo, that stuff is so good.  I swear, sriracha makes anything delicious.

Me: Seriously.

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Roasted chicken legs with warm tomato vinaigrette

January 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

We’re pretty solidly on our way into January, but I’m still thinking vaguely about resolutions.  I haven’t really made one.  Or I’ve made half a million.  Both, And.  Like so many other people, I’d love to eat even better and exercise even more.  Overall we do pretty okay in this household, however there is always, somewhat unfortunately, room for improvement.  But, as far as I can tell, my real resolution for this new year has been to start parting my hair on the other side of my head.  This was a sudden decision not founded on much of anything in particular.  It was sort of intuitive, and it also has been seeming to me symbolic somehow, the part in your hair sitting right above your brain, and all.

I couldn’t help myself, and just this morning I decided to look up what parting your hair on the right side “means” according to who knows who, the people who like to develop theories about the meanings of unconscious body language and self-presentation decisions, I suppose.  A right side part (which I have just introduced to my scalp) supposedly means you’re creative, artistic, and outgoing.  The left side (my former side) means you’re responsible and a strong leader.  (A middle part means you’re balanced.  It also makes my face look ridiculously long, so I guess I’m giving up my aspirations toward balance ;). )  This is interesting to me because, remarkably, the message of the left side part – dependable, a leader – is the self I’ve spent much of my life trying to project, while never feeling it was that good of a fit.  The right side part – creative, artistic – is actually more aligned with my natural approach to the world.  The trouble is, I’ve never thought very highly of my artistic talents.  I have that bent, but I don’t usually like the art I create.  It tends to be goofy, even cute, and I can’t shake off of myself the dogma that art should be serious, beautiful, heart wrenching. « Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken and pumpkin tagine with garlicky couscous

December 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

I love having people over for dinner. Love it! Throwing a “dinner party,” inviting “guests,” that’s kind of stressful and I develop this performance anxiety about it (though, I find it exhilarating at times as well). But, having folks over, gathering them around the table, making new connections, strengthening old ones, and most importantly filling everyone up with delicious food, now that is one of my favorite things in the world. In fact, I think it may actually be one of my greatest life aspirations, more so than work or other achievements, to make sure that my table is a warm and comfortable place where people always feel welcome to drop in for a moment and then stay for a whole meal and conversation.

Because of this, I have a tendency to improvise and experiment when I’m cooking for friends who come over, just as much as when I cook for myself. I know the general wisdom is that you should never try out a new recipe when you’re having company, and in concept I agree. But, I still find myself standing at the stove, pulling out random spice jars and saying to myself, ‘let’s see if this works’ even as I’m waiting for the ring of our doorbell (which, on a side note, is the most awful doorbell sound you could possibly imagine and always makes me jump a foot and half when it goes off) and know that people are about to come piling in, excited to be fed. Sure, there have been a couple of unfortunate incidents with rubbery, flavorless chicken, or curdled mango-cream sauce, but life went on, and overall it has worked out for the best. And there’s been more fun for everyone! « Read the rest of this entry »

Spanakopita rice

October 26, 2010 § 4 Comments

Who knows where we get the ideas for the things we cobble together on weeknights, right? Well, maybe you do know. I mean, sometimes inspiration is obvious – a bookmarked recipe page, a post on a blog, a family staple, or the fact that it’s midweek which very frequently means spaghetti. Other times, the places ideas come from are misty and obscure, like magical islands in distant oceans. This dinner most definitely came from the latter. And, it might have required seven-league boots or a ride on a magical eagle to make its way to my kitchen.

I’ve been calling it spanakopita-rice, which sounds kind of goofy, but really pretty much sums up what it is. All the spinachy goodness of spanakopita filling without the trouble of phyllo dough (which I like to call phyllo d’oh, even though a certain husband of mine says that if I keep doing so, I probably won’t have any more friends soon. But it’s totally funny, right? Right?). And, I think that’s vaguely where the idea came from. I had feta cheese to use up from those yummy muffins, and I figured I would make one of my standard Greek-y tomato-y sauces for chicken and sprinkle feta all over it. But then a vague notion of spanakopita crept into the recesses of my mind. Mmmm. I do love spanakopita. The notion became stronger when I remembered that I had leftover spinach as well. But no phyllo dough, because who just keeps phyllo dough around when you’re not planning a party with fancy hors d’oeuvres? So, then I thought I would make some filling and toss it with pasta. But, somewhere in the process of chopping onions, I started thinking about paella as well. And how I’d never made a paella. And how I wasn’t going to make paella that evening, but maybe I could use rice in place of pasta with my spinach-feta mix. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever, in a sense

March 17, 2010 § 6 Comments

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (and St. Urho’s Day yesterday!).  I know according to some generally accepted food writing standard I’m supposed to be making use of this holiday conversation starter to share some recipe for colcannon or bangers and mash or Irish soda bread.  But, I’m afraid I haven’t made any of those lately.  Though I feel an affinity for Irish folks – my Viking ancestors having pillaged and conquered their villages and such (always have to give my Irish friends a hard time on St. Patty’s day) – I’ve never gotten into celebrating the holiday.  Ack, wait!  Don’t pinch me!  Here’s something green.  And not to worry, I’ll certainly be raising a pint tonight.

I’ve been musing about growing up lately.  I just don’t feel like I make a particularly good grown up (growing old is a different story – I have high hopes of being a totally eccentric, white-haired old spitfire of a woman someday).  Growing up has its perks, for sure.  But, why are we expected to get so darn serious as we grow up?  Life is too important to take seriously, I say!  I still secretly want to be a ballerina.  I still look for fairies and elves in the trees and flowers.  I would rather chase after falling leaves and stomp in puddles than go running and do yoga (though I enjoy both of those too).  It keeps things magical. « Read the rest of this entry »

What’s for supper? Chicken-spinach quesadilla

October 21, 2009 § 1 Comment

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting.  Big, stressful deadlines, extra meetings, doctor’s appointments and other events to go to.  Oh wait, that’s normal life.  (I claim the right to be a little extra exhausted however, because I just passed an exam that my career was basically riding on)  At any rate, I shlocked my way through it, only once turning to a frozen pizza for help – though I’ll admit that I also ate spaghetti at practically every meal for several days in a row.  Actually during stressful weeks, I often find it a relief to cook in the evening.  You get to take out your aggression by taking a knife to the vegetables.  You get to prove to yourself that you really are productive by taking a handful of ingredients and transforming them into something tasty.  And then, no matter how stressful the day was, you can take some time to sit and eat, just concentrating on the meal and your dining companions, letting other things slip away for the moment.

But, that brings me to today.  Today I finally had nothing major going on.  I got enough sleep last night.  I went for a bike ride through the beautiful fall weather.  I had the time to roll up my sleeves, reach for my cutting board, and whip up something absolutely fabulous in the kitchen.  And I really, really, really didn’t feel like it.  I had no desire to cook.  Whatsoever.  However, a nagging voice in my mind reminded me that I also didn’t really want to spend the money to go out to eat, now did I, and that I had perfectly good food in the fridge I should use up so as not to be wasteful, and that I would feel much better about myself if I didn’t give in to the corporate food system, blahblahblah… « Read the rest of this entry »

Roast a chicken before work (or at least some chicken legs)

September 4, 2009 § 1 Comment

Now, I know I’m not a particularly “normal” person.  I’m definitely prone to a weird behavior or two.  But now the question is, does the fact that I just roasted some chicken legs before I even made it into my office this morning make me certifiable?  (No, I don’t actually want to know the answer to that)

Here’s what happened:  I had taken some chicken legs out of my freezer a couple of days before.  But, life and last minute dinner engagements left the defrosted chicken sitting, neglected and forlorn, on a shelf in the refrigerator (trust me, there’s nothing more forlorn than raw chicken perched in a refrigerator – except maybe old, withered carrots) until it reached a point where I was worried that, if I didn’t use it immediately, it would go bad.  And I hate wasting food – I get all worked up about it, for some reason.   However, I knew I was going to be at my office until late that night, and wouldn’t have enough time to cook it once I came home before I became so ravenous I would gnaw my arm off.  The only reasonable solution, I determined, was to roast the chicken legs before heading in to work so that they would be quick to reheat that night.  The craziest thing about the whole situation, really, was how incredibly easy it turned out to be.  I only had to get up 5 minutes earlier than usual. « Read the rest of this entry »

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