Susan’s Birthday

Yesterday, Friday, January 8th, was Susan’s birthday. When I woke up on the day before, the 7th, I thought the 7th was the 8th.

Before she woke (on the 7th), I scrambled to wrap her present and make her card. (See Freddy above sniffing at her card and present.) Soon she came out of the bedroom and I said “Happy Birthday!” She said, “Today’s not my birthday. It’s the 8th.” I said, “Today is the 8th. Come. Let’s look at the calendar.” Sure enough it was the 7th. This confusion a sign of the times. To misquote a song by Chicago, “Does anybody really know what day it is?”

I know tomorrow is Sunday because the Sunday New York Times is delivered. And Wednesday is garbage day because I see that our street is lined with barrels filled with garbage. And Friday is Brooks and Shields (Now Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart since Shields recently retired). But other than that I am never sure of the day or date. Or time! This a sign of the pandemic and being in quarantine. I need a calendar!

Susan opened her card first upon waking on the 8th, a picture of our kitchen table which I think says much about who we are, our interests, our love of books and beauty. And it reminds me of a painting by French Impressionists. I enjoy still lifes of our home.

Years ago, I wrote:

This is
A Place
A Table
Round, of grace
A flowered tablecloth
A bowl of lemons and limes
Apples and oranges
We hold hands
Thank You God
For these gifts
We are about to receive
From your bounty
Through Christ our Lord
Amen.
A table of grace.
We then enjoyed a cup of coffee and soon I made us bacon and blueberry pancakes.
I spent much time organizing my photos of Times Square @ 1980s for my book, “Famous People Famous Places“. I am happy that I have made great progress on the project since reading about myself in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review section a few weeks ago (See previous post).
This is how the organization comes along. First I printed contact sheets of all the photos, cut them into “negs” and placed them on a large paper board.
Then I spent many hours looking at the images, determining an order, a sequence that made sense to me.
I then took these negatives and taped them into my journal so that I can reference them as I upload to Blurb.
During lunch, Susan suggested we order out for dinner. We often do order out for pizza on Friday nights. But after I walked Freddy in the afternoon, I returned home cold and thought there’s no way I want to go out later for a pizza. So while Susan napped in the late afternoon, I made a birthday dinner for her (It was her birthday!): Roasted Chicken Thighs with Pears and Dried Cranberries; Wild Rice; Carrots.
The recipe is based on one from Taste of Home:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each) (I used 2 skinless boneless chicken thighs)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (I used 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (I didn’t use.)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (I didn’t use)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar (I didn’t use)
  • 2 medium unpeeled pears, each cut into 8 wedges (I used 6 canned and drained pear halves)
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until a thermometer reads 165°, 8-10 minutes. Remove. (I roasted the chicken thighs in oven at 375 for 45 minutes)
  • Meanwhile, stir together next 5 ingredients until blended. Pour into skillet; add pears and dried cherries. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are tender, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; simmer, uncovered, until heated through, 3-5 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional minced rosemary (I warmed pears, stock, vinegar, cranberries on stove top)
After dinner, we watched Brooks and Capehart and then a fascinating documentary of James Beard. I had forgotten he had a great gift for writing. I once had two Beard books (He wrote 18.): “Beard on Bread” and “The James Beard Cookbook.” I lost them in one of my moves. I will have to see if I can find a few in a used book store.
The show brought home to me the fact that I need, I am called, to again write. To write about food. To write about art. To write about life.
To tell stories. Which reminds me; did I ever tell you the story about the times I had lunch at the Four Seasons bar?

 

Chicken Thighs with Fennel, Plums and Red Onion

Susan found this recipe for me.

Based on the following recipe from Melissa Clark of The New York Times. According to the newspaper:

“Beautiful to behold and easy to make, this sheet-pan dinner combines sweet plums and soft red onions with crisp-skinned pieces of roasted chicken. Toasted fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and a touch of allspice add complexity while a mound of fresh torn herbs crowns the top. If good ripe plums aren’t available, you can substitute another stone fruit including peaches, nectarines or pluots, though if your fruit is very sweet, you might want to add a squeeze of lemon at the end. Serve this with rice pilaf, polenta or warm flatbread for a festive meal.”

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Large pinch red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut into parts (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups ripe, soft plums, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced from root to stem in 1/2-inch wedges
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • cup torn mint, basil or cilantro leaves (or a combination)
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Preparation

  1. Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour seeds into a mortar and pound with a pestle until coarsely crushed (or lay seeds on a cutting board and pound them with a can or jar).
  2. Put the seeds into a large bowl and stir in lemon juice, zest, garlic, honey, allspice and red-pepper flakes.
  3. Season chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and add to the bowl, turning the pieces to coat them with marinade. Mix in plums and thyme sprigs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the chicken pieces, plums, and thyme sprigs on a rimmed baking pan. Add onions, spreading them out around the chicken and plums. Season plums and onions lightly with salt. Drizzle everything with olive oil.
  5. Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes, removing the white meat if it’s done before the dark meat.
  6. Transfer chicken pieces as they are done to a platter. Spoon the plums and onions around the chicken. Drizzle a little of the pan drippings over the chicken and serve, garnished with the herbs and flaky salt.

I served this with Israeli Couscous with parsley and mint.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Honey Mustard Cilantro Baked Chicken Thighs with Veggies

This is based on a recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats. She called for using thyme which I have growing in my garden but it was raining cats and dogs and I had a bunch of cilantro in the fridge so I used that instead. A big plus; this is a one pan dish!

Ingredients

  • 4 bone boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 cups cut green beans
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 red pepper, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to season

Honey Mustard Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon course stone ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. To a large bowl roasting pan add green beans, sweet potato, red onion, red pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat everything with seasoning.
  3. To a small bowl add course stone ground mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic clove, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. Whisk to mix everything together.
  4. Pat chicken dry. Then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Using a pastry brush, evenly brush the the honey mustard mixture across all 4 chicken thighs.
  5. Place seasoned chicken thighs in roasting pan and spread veggies out around the chicken breasts. Be sure to put them in a single layer and not to crowd the pan.
  6. Place the roasting pan bake for 45 minutes. Stir veggies at 25 minutes.
  7. Serve.

Delicious!

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

The Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe–Baked, Not Fried!

Just look at this photo!!!

YUM!

A healthy version of General Tso’s Chicken.

Ingredients:

4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite-sizes pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil baking dish. I used a 10 X 12.
  2. Place chicken in large bowl and mix with cornstarch.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, paprika, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour over chicken and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Pour this mixture into baking dish.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, and bake for another 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
  7. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions–if desired.

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs with Buttermilk-Mustard Sauce

We have been cooking with chicken thighs here quite often.

A few days ago, I made Braised Chicken Thighs with Dates and Apricots—so delicious.

And last night (pictured here), I made Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs with Buttermilk-Mustard Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 4 (6-ounce) chicken thighs, skinned
Directions
Step 1

Preheat oven to 425°.

Step 2

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl. Spoon 3 tablespoons buttermilk mixture into a shallow bowl; reserve remaining mixture.

Step 3

Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Dip chicken in 3 tablespoons buttermilk mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Chill 15 minutes. Lightly coat a baking sheet (or oven-proof chef’s pan) with cooking spray, and place in oven for 5 minutes.

Step 4

Place the chicken on baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 24 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180°, turning chicken after 12 minutes. Microwave reserved buttermilk mixture at high for 20 seconds or until warm. Drizzle the sauce over chicken. Note: I baked with for 30 minutes, turning at 15.

Next time, I might use Panko instead of bread crumbs and old style grain mustard.

Anyway, it was delicious. Served with lentils, roasted Brussels Sprouts and walnuts, homemade cranberry sauce.

Based on a recipe from Cooking Light.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

This is so delicious. And so easy to prepare.

Recipe is from “Food & Wine Magazine, Quick From Scratch One-Dish Meals Cookbook;” a great cookbook. I am positive I made four meals from the book in the past 10 days!!!

Quoting from the book:

“Spaghettini is a good stand-in for Asian noodles, but if you can find rice noodles, by all means use them here. Serve the soup in deep bowls with chopsticks or forks as well as spoons and then drink the soup in the Asian manner. Or, use a spoon only and eat everything together, break the pasta into small pieces before cooking.”

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespooon sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger (peeled and cut into thin slices)
2 dashes cayenne pepper (add more to taste)
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)
1 1/2 quart chicken broth (I used my homemade stock)
1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes, with juices
1¼ pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch or smaller cubes (boneless, skinless)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (plus extra for garnish) (optional)
½ pounds udon noodles (can substitute spaghetti, gluten-free or egg-free thin noodles)
salt (to taste)
3-5 cups baby bok choy (I used 5.)

1/4 cup lime juice (from 2 limes)

Directions

 

In a large soup pot, heat both oils at medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, chicken, and fish sauce, cilantro. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or for the cooking time recommended on the package of noodles you are using. Add salt to taste. Add bok choy and lime juice and cook another 1-2 minutes until soft. Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedge (optional)

Oh—and I served it with homemade Wheat, Pecan, Sunflower Seed, Dried Cranberry Bread.

Black Pepper Chicken Thighs with Mango, Rum and Cashews

Colorful and delightful. Delicious! I might cut back on the pepper next time as I woke up a few times during the night very thirsty.

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup salted cashews
  • 1 ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 large (15-ounce) mango, cut into 1/4-inch cubes or use 2 small mangoes)
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar, to taste
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cashews and sugar-spice mixture to the skillet; cook, stirring, until nuts are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape nuts into a bowl.
  2. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel. Season chicken all over with salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add scallions and cilantro stems; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add garlic and chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Pour in the rum and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the rum evaporates, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove pan from heat and immediately add nuts, mango, vinegar and cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

From The New York Times, Melissa Clark

Asian Glazed Chicken Thighs

Simple to prepare. Slightly spicy. Slightly sweet. Simply delicious!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons pure sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2-3 cups spinach with 1/4 cup sesame seeds (cooked separately)
  • sliced green onions/shallots

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to  425°F
  2. Whisk the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and orange juice in a bowl until smooth. Pour half the marinade into a large plastic zipper bag; retain the other half of the sauce. Place the chicken thighs into the bag containing marinade, squeeze all the air out of the bag, and seal. Shake a few times to coat chicken; refrigerate for 1 hour, turning bag once or twice.
  3. Pour the other half of the marinade into a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, to thicken sauce. Take off heat and allow to cool.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bag; discard used marinade. Place chicken thighs into an oven proof pan/skillet or baking dish and brush with 1/3 of the thickened marinade from the saucepan.
  5. Bake 30–45 minutes, basting one more time after 10 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chicken thigh should read 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
  6. Change oven settings to grill/broil on medium heat and grill until the skin changes to deep golden in color (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle with sesame seeds before broiling.
  7. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with spinach and sesame seeds or steamed bok choy, shallots/green onion slices.

Based on recipes from Café Delites and Allrecipes.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.