Our first M ‘n’ M day

No not the candies….although that does sound pretty good at the moment…

Today was our first of what I hope to be many Mommy and “Lil Bit” days. The Empress here finally got the grande ok from all persons (including herself) to go from full-time “40 hours” (truly closer to 60 most weeks) down to “32 hours” (probably actual 40 hrs a week) thus allowing more time for things like the Lil Bit, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, sanity……

My main issue when deciding to do this was really the perception of how things were supposed to be in my head versus what they really could and probably should be. I’m not loosing (that) much monetary or otherwise by dropping down to 4 days/week, but as today already has shown me, I’m gaining so much more.

My Lil Bit and I had planned since last Thursday to go to the Toddler Time gymnastics at our gym early this morning. She’s under-the-weather with the tail end of a cold but depending on how she was doing afterwards I’d take her to the Tot Drop (that she views as a treat) and go workout a bit myself. Well those plans came to a halt when the wicked witch lady at the front desk informed us, somewhat callously, that Toddler Time had been changed to Tuesdays and Thursdays….great, now I’ve built my darling up all weekend long and am now going to deal with her crushed hopes and dreams hurt feelings. To my surprise she was upset for all of two seconds and then excited to go play with the swarm of other children who just happened to be there when I needed them today.

The rest of the day was grocery shopping, cooking dinner and hanging with daddy….at a much less rushed pace. It’s hard to describe this almost “weight-lifted-off shoulders” sort of elation I’m enjoying at the moment (although some of that may be do to my full belly and half-a-beer warmness I’m enjoying post-consumption this evening.)

So tonight I cooked my famous (at our house anyway) version of Ina Garten’s engagement chicken, I always do variations of it but it’s a quick easy dinner with lots of leftovers that I use the pulled chicken from the bone for other recipes.

The Everyday Empress’ Roasted Chicken

1 whole roaster chicken (I prefer Springer Mountain brand) 4-5lbs

2 lemons

2 heads of garlic

kosher salt or coarse sea salt (approx 2 tsp)

1/2 to 1 cup low-no sodium chicken broth (White Wine and Herb this time)

1/2 cup white wine (if not using above White Wine and Herb)

2 tbs butter, melted and set aside to cool slightly

(optional small roaster potatoes, onion in chunks or carrots, we used rainbow carrots and sweet onion tonight from our local organic co-op)

  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Remove giblets if present from chicken, rinse chicken off and dry with paper towels, salt liberally inside and out
  • cut 1 lemons into 8ths and 1 head of garlic across the top leaving the cloves exposed, removing most of the husk either cut in half or place with 8ths of lemons into cavity until full. (You can tie the legs together but I don’t find the need)
  • Cut remaining lemon into quarters and peel remainder of garlic throw into large basting pan with chicken and veggies
  • place about half of chicken broth/white wine in the pan and if desired the veggies mentioned above
  • Coat chicken with butter using basting brush
  • Cook for about 1 hr then check internal temp with meat thermometer (if you don’t have one, get oneseriously!!! cooking meat to temperature leaves you with juicy, safe-to-eat meat)
  • If top of chicken browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil over it loosely to reflect heat
  • Once chicken to temperature pull it out to serving place to rest and cover with aluminum foil loosely
  • If remaining veggies not quite done, lower temp to 350’F and cook for a few more mins (5-10 usually does the trick)
  • Use drippings and veggies to pour on top of carved chicken and serve immediately
  • Remaining chicken is great to use in chicken salad, chicken tetrazzini or even to toss on top of a salad
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Death, Guilt and the cure=Top Gear :)

I would just like to say that Robin Williams’ death has had way more of an effect on me than I thought it would, especially for someone I’ve never met. The thing is, I feel as though a part if my childhood is dead. And not just dead, but an unexpected, self-inflicted sort of dead. I haven’t been able to think of many films I watched when I was younger that I truly enjoyed that he was not a part of….I realize this is all a bit shallow considering the many other current events that are significantly more tragic in nature constantly but still felt it worth mentioning at least for myself to my future self, etc.

I guess I really don’t have to feel guilty about coming across as shallow or uncultured when I think about it, it’s my blog….

On another note I have roughly 12 or so unfinished posts going including part 2 of the cooking that will hopefully make it out soon but I’m watching the newly available (to us, here, at our house) series 21 of Top Gear and Hammond, May, and Clarkson require my presence….

A strange collage

I was working on a few things at our desktop while Lil Bit was playing in the living room, suddenly she rolls into the room with her pink shopping cart and lays this strange assortment of things on my desk.

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“Here ju go momma, I buyed des for you!” Turns on her heels leaving me to ponder over her eccentric collection of “prizes” she has sat before me. Not sure if I should be alarmed, bemused or ready my bullwhip and suitcase to go on some Indiana-Jones-type adventure.

How to love cooking for those that don’t–Part I (My introduction to the culinary world)

So I guess before I explain the above title let me explain a little about me and the Moose.

Before Moose and I started dating, even when we were just friends, I ate a pretty bland, borderline rabbit food diet. I had never really liked food that much even as a child. My parents used to have to cut all the “crusts” off of everything, even taking the breading off of chicken nuggets. I drank water and apple juice and that was pretty much it. As I got older a few more things made it onto the very slim list including salads, breading, and Chinese food. I’ve never liked pizza, fried chicken or sweet tea (how anti-Southern is that of me, bless my heart….)

Looking back now I know why I was thin and my mom had to literally iron my pantyhose/tights for dance class so that they didn’t wrinkle and sag. I was always doing at least one very active activity. Well along comes high school and even late I that game I was picky, my now husband, then best friend, started educating my palate with Greek/Mediterranean food at a little restaurant that no longer exists (much to our dismay). The owner, a man who could have been the basis for Costas “Gus” from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was so warm and welcoming and told me I was picky only because I had never had Greek food before, “I cook something for you…..”

And so he did, and I ate. Any weekend night Moose worked, our very own “Gus” would tell him to call me and have me come down and he would cook for me. Chicken Alfredo, chicken Marsala, pesto, Greek yogurt with honey, Greek salad, feta cheese, crusty bread with “good” olive oil and balsamic vinegar all became weekend staples, thank God for tennis or I would have been as wide as I was tall. He would never let me pay for a meal unless if was with a bunch of friends. I owe the man more than the sum of all those meals for educating my palate.

From there I continued to discover new food with Moose and when he left the engineering route and went the culinary route I actually developed a love of food. Sedentary lifestyle of a nursing students and the Moose’s rich and delicious food = 40 lbs that I’ve never quite shook for long. I lost weight when I became a floor nurse but gained it back when we got married and moved back home and I began nightshift. More school, a baby and now I’m 50lbs from my high school weight and 30 lbs from where I’d like to be but I really still love food.

Part of the problem is that I’ve always hated cooking or at least thought I had. Turns out I just didn’t really know how to cook and was completely uninterested in learning how. Lil Bit changed that, I wanted to give her the most nutritious food while she was growing in the womb and just as organic and nutritious while I was breast feeding. Once she was old enough to eat I began making my own baby food and then her meals. My husband started a healthy lifestyle change and began bodybuilding about two years ago and now we are much more health conscious with our cooking in general; however when I want something comforting or savory, I have to cook it. Thus began my culinary journey and a love/hate relationship with cooking.