Monday, September 16, 2013

The Wifening – Part The Second

Reporting in on The Wifening... I made dinner. Just like a real grown up. And I handled raw chicken and everything... And no one got salmonella! 

I call that a success!

I decided to make a twist between a recipe that we already love (that’s not really a recipe at all) and a recipe that I found on-line (I think it was on For the part we already love: simply take however many boneless skinless chicken breasts you need to feed who you are feeding, put it in a Ziploc bag with a crap-ton (real measurement) of sweet-hot mustard (or whatever mustard you happen to enjoy), and let it soak in that overnight. J would normally just cook this up in a pan the next day and it is ridiculously simple and delicious. Something about that sweet and spicy mustard coating the chicken is just magical.

But I had to make it different. Because I wanted to make it mine. SO... For the twist: Take it out of the mustard and coat it in a mixture of panko bread crumbs and fresh shredded parmesan cheese (slightly more panko than cheese). Then put it on a rack on a foil-covered tray (I improvised this and used the roasting tray out of our turkey pan on a cookie sheet) that has been sprayed with olive oil (or other oil...) and bake it at 450 degrees for about 20-ish minutes. Maybe more, maybe less depending on the size of your chickens. There were two random chicken strips in our pack of chicken, so I made those too. I just put them in the oven about 7 minutes or so into cooking the rest of the chicken so that they wouldn't be overdone.

For a side – because I had to make sure there was a veggie too... I made carrots with garlic and shallots. This is something that we have regularly because it’s simple and yummy. Basically peel and chop your carrots, par boil them for about a minute, dump out the water and set them to the side. Chop up about 2 cloves of garlic and 2-3 shallots (TOTALLY depends on how much you like...), throw them in a pan with some olive oil and let that cook up until the shallots start to get pale. Toss in the carrots and make sure it’s all mixed together. I also added some spicy Japanese seasoning that we love at this point... Then shove the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes. Normally J would have it at 350, but since the chicken was already in there at 450, it went in at that... It's pretty forgiving. Just keep an eye on it – you want the shallots to get crispy, but not burnt. I sorta failed on the crispiness because I was overly concerned with the non-burntness... But they still tasted good... I just really love when the shallots are super crispy...

So there you go... My easy dinner.

It’s not super pretty (well, the chicken actually is quite nice looking – the carrots aren’t lookers, but they sure are yummy), but it’s still dinner. And fairly healthy. And I thought it was delicious. J said he didn’t love the parmesan with the mustard, so if I make it again I will probably leave it out. I actually liked the flavors together, but I’m not gonna lose sleep over taking it out...

It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had built it up to be in my mind and I’m slightly less worried about cooking chicken now. I thought it was going to be super dry, but it was delicious and moist.

My big problem is that I love baking, but I don’t like cooking. And the biggest irritation for me with cooking is that there aren’t really any exacts. Not with measurements or times or anything! There are too many variables... And I never liked that. Baking is so specific and orderly.... Cooking feels like just slappin’ some stuff together, cooking it “until it’s done,” and hoping it’s good. J loves that kind of thing – he can walk into the kitchen with no idea what he wants to make and come out with something incredible like pomegranate duck or salmon with a plum-chile glaze. I have to have a game plan.

But I’m going to keep doing this – I already picked out what I’m making this week. For the time being, I’m going to go into each week with my meal picked out so that I at least know WHAT I’m making. I’ll work up to the grabbing of random things and making a dinner out of them eventually... And I’ll keep enjoying watching J have to do the dishes for a change on the nights I cook... haha

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Wifening

What? It can be a word if I want it to be one...

Welcome to my little experiment. I realized one night after making dinner for J (stuffed peppers – YUM!) and being overly proud of myself that it was the first time I had ever made a real dinner for the poor guy! In just over 8 years of marriage... Ooops.

I mean, I had made things that I wanted before and just happened to make enough for him... The problem is that I tend to want to eat like a 5 year old a lot and that’s not his cuppa tea. Like when I made him tamale casserole – a dish that I grew up on and love to this day. He took about two bites and then made himself something else if I remember correctly - I know he did NOT like it. Or when I made him crescent dogs! What a delicious night that was!

**To my credit, I had tried to make him my mom’s lasagna once, but he kept taking over, so I abandoned the kitchen and played games on my Nintendo DS on the couch while he made dinner. And I have since made lasagna without him home, so he COULDN’T take over. AND I do all the laundry... So there’s that...**

I don’t know what it is... I just don’t have the “wife” gene. It must have skipped me somehow. I hate cooking. I REALLY hate cleaning... I think part of me feels like – “I’m at work all day, then I go to the gym after work, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook dinner! If we want a housewife in this house, I’m gonna have to start doin’ a whole lot less of this ‘goin’ to work’ nonsense.” Which is unfair of me. I know this... He works too – farther from home and longer hours to be quite honest, but still... He actually LIKES to cook. And is really good at it!

He makes BEAUTIFUL dinners! Out of things that seem completely random to me. He just knows what will taste good together just BECAUSE. He does kitchen sorcery like “cracking an egg open with one hand” or “flipping things in a pan instead of stirring”.... Things that would leave me with a handful of crushed egg or a wall covered in food... And he always has everything finished cooking at the same time – and everything is perfectly timed and wonderful. I try to think of doing that and snort-laugh. A lot.

I can’t look in the fridge and go, “Hey, there’s a pork tenderloin. I’m gonna make.......” Because that’s literally where my brain shuts off. Seriously... I couldn’t even make up an example to use here! My brain had a panic attack and ran away to look at recipes for cupcakes and cookies.

Because that’s what I enjoy. I love baking. I could make some sort of bread, cookie, cake, cupcake, sweet... every day of the week. I have recipes that I know by heart because they are my standards. A thing that is definitely NOT true about COOKING. I don’t know any recipe by heart and I certainly don’t have anything that would just pop into my head to create!

I WANT to be a better cook... Kind of... Ok, not really... But I feel like I SHOULD want to be a better cook... Because grown-ups know how to make something for dinner other than a tuna sandwich... So I’m determined to change some things around my house.

I will arm myself with a stock of recipes that I feel fairly confident I would be able to make and I will start trying to cook dinner. And I will try to be better about straightening up... And maybe vacuuming more than biannually (seriously not that much of an exaggeration). I’m not putting any kind of “numbers” or “times” on this – not for real real. I’ll just say.....

I am going to cook dinner one night next week!


I will pick something that seems easy enough to make and I WILL make it! I will pick it before our weekly shopping trip so that I can buy whatever I need to make it and can’t make excuses about not having the ingredients! I will not curl up in the corner at the thought of touching raw chicken! The meal will be well-rounded and include protein, veggies, and a carb of some sort!

And if it comes out dry and disgusting, I will try again next week!

I’ll let ya know how it goes... J may decide that he doesn't REALLY wish I could cook like he thinks he does and will resume all cooking duties... We'll see. Maybe I'm gonna be a naturally awesome chef - I just haven't made an honest enough attempt at recognizing my full potential yet.... 

Yeah.. See? There's that snort-laugh again......

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