This day, good one. Three plus years (and a couple of months) ago, the day I married John. And he married me. We often ask each other, how did we get so lucky to meet each other? Hey, we’ve had our ups and downs, like any couple. Major ups and downs. It is not easy to put two families together as newlyweds. No, that is not easy. In fact, it is hands down the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and I’ve faced some seriously shitty times in my life. But in our toughest times, we could still come back together, somehow, and enjoy being together. And you know what? Food has played a big role. We love to come together around food, both of us. I love to cook it, he loves to eat it (and oh yeah, I love to eat it too, ha). We love to talk about it, with each other and with our friends and family. In any given week we have nights alone, with both kids, or with just one or the other. We eat dinner in our dining room on the nights we have both kids, with candles and cloth napkins, the whole nine, and it is FUN. It’s our special thing. It’s a little tradition I carried over from my own family – my dad and stepmom always eat in the dining room, and it was something I really looked forward to when I was growing up. So we gather around the food that we’ve all slowly negotiated we can eat together (I am NOT a fan of the short-order cooking process, whereby each child places an order for dinner; nope) and attempt to put together this new family with our own traditions and make it all hang together. The four of us will be having dinner together tonight, not sure yet what I’m making. Whatever it is, even if it’s takeout, we’ll eat it in the dining room. And I’ll look across the table at John and be very grateful, like I often do, that he came into my life. And I know he’ll feel the same way. Unless I’m bitching about something, and then he won’t at that moment. But he will later, when I’m calmed down and nice again.
Brrrr, it’s cold again today! My bones had acclimated to our mid-winter thaw and were mighty surprised when I went for a long walk today (thus the earmuffs over the hat, tres chic, a la Minnesota). Ouch. It was a gorgeous day, however, even if cold. The sun had some heat, and the light was incredible. I snapped a quick pic with my phone, since I didn’t have my camera with me. Definitely captured that wintery Minnesota mid-afternoon light, I think.
Chicken is a-roastin’, tomato gratin is a-bakin’, and rice is a-simmerin’. Dinner’ll be on in minutes. (That’s supposed to imply some sort of southern accent, if you’re wonderin’…I don’t know why, it’s not a southern meal or anythin’, I’m just dorkin’ out.) The dinner I intended to make mid-week is on the menu tonight. A cut-up whole chicken, roasted at high heat with some oil and salt until crispy and tender. Rice. And a simple-but-delicious tomato gratin. A kid-friendly meal, but warm and tasty on a cold winter’s night. Comfort food, definitely. (Recipes for chicken and tomato gratin, posted below in comments.)
For Crispy Chicken Drummies, follow the Simple Roasted Chicken recipe above, using (obv) chicken drummies. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turn and roast for another 20. For pan juices, skip the parchment paper and after removing the roasted drummies from the pan, pour off most of the oil and deglaze the baking sheet, over a medium-hot burner, with canned chicken broth. Serve with rice.
Winter Tomato Gratin
This is almost a tomato bread pudding, crisp on top, soft in the interior. Nice with a simply prepared chicken or fish entrée.
1-1 1b. can whole tomatoes (Muir Glen organic are very good)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano (and a few pinches of any other Italian herbs you like – rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.)
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
few grinds of fresh pepper
3 c. fresh bread crumbs from egg bread or challah (or plain white bread, if you can’t find egg bread; about 6 pieces, pureed in a food processor to coarse crumbs)
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a shallow tart/quiche pan. Open the can of tomatoes and lift tomatoes, one at a time, from the can, and over a medium bowl, use kitchen shears to cut each tomato in half or thirds, allowing the juices to run into the bowl. Drop cut pieces into the bowl as you go. In the can there will remain quite a bit of juice. Pour it into the bowl with the tomatoes. Stir in the garlic, herbs, sugar, flour, salt, and pepper. Spread tomato mixture in the bottom of prepared pan. In a small bowl, toss together bread crumbs and melted butter. Stir in cheese and salt. Spread over the top of the tomatoes. Bake for 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Simple Roasted Chicken
This is a basic, kid-friendly roasted chicken, salty and crispy.
1 whole cut-up chicken
½ c. oil (or more)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (prevents sticking, makes for easier clean up). Pour oil on baking sheet. Place the chicken, one piece at a time, in the oil and turn to coat, at the same time spreading the oil over the parchment paper. Generously salt each piece of chicken, on both sides, and end with each piece turned top-side-down. Roast for 30 minutes, turn chicken pieces over, and roast for another 15-30 minutes, until chicken is browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Thanks! Not quite our anniversary, I was just feeling grateful. As someone who also has a good husband, you know how that goes! Woo hoo for good husbands!
Awww, Happy Anniversary, my friend! I'm so glad you have each other!