Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Yellow Chicken Day

It’s only a day away from the month of March and the snow is piled high and it's still really cold outside.  When you've been inside the house for the past five month, your ability to come up with ‘something to do’ wanes. So yesterday was Yellow Day. I told my 4 ½ year old that Yellow Day was the day we said, “Happy Yellow Day” to Daddy first thing in the morning and said the same to anyone who phoned.  On Yellow Day we wear yellow clothes. (She was pleased that the only yellow attire she could find in her closet was a yellow and orange polka-dot sundress.)  And we play with yellow toys and games and of course we eat yellow food.

Breakfast was Cheerios® from a yellow box, lemon yogurt and banana. Morning snack was a graham cracker with peanut butter, banana and honey; and to drink a smoothie of yogurt, orange juice and yellow food coloring. (No, I didn’t drag out the blender; I often make “smoothies” for my girls in a cocktail shaker with a couple spoonfuls of yogurt, juice and an ice cube or two. The cocktail shaker makes a super foamy smoothie in which they love all the bubbles.) 

After snacks, we all went out to shovel the driveway for the 50th time this winter. So when Daddy came home for lunch, I sent the girls in with him while I finished the job. Daddy forgot it was Yellow Day and made them very un-yellow PB&J for lunch. But some bright yellow corn with butter and canned pineapple for an afternoon snack put us back on track!  And a dinner finale was yellow spaghetti squash, roast chicken and for dessert, thawed-from-frozen guava was a perfectly-yellow tropical treat from a local Hispanic grocer.

Now, about the just-mentioned roasted chicken; I’ve been craving a beautifully golden roast chicken lately. After buying the whole chicken, I consulted my trusty Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, Here in America’s Test Kitchen. The authors denounced roasting the whole bird and said it would result in uneven cooking. Instead they instructed, cut up the whole bird, pan-sear the pieces and then roast to perfection in a hot 450° oven. So we set out to make Pan-Roasted Chicken with Sherry-Rosemary Sauce.

Now, I haven’t cut up a chicken since my daughter has been alive. I’m way out of practice. But of course she helped and it was a fantastic lesson in anatomy for her. As I hacked away with a pair of kitchen shears, she learned all about bone, muscle, cartilage (like in her nose!), and the yellow chicken fat. In the end, we had eight pieces of chicken that were marginally discernable. But best of all, my daughter wasn’t afraid to get her hands all gooey with chicken meat/fat/skin.

And the chicken was divine! First we brined it for only 30 minutes, patted dry, and pan-seared in a tiny amount of oil. It was then roasted for only 10 minutes in the same pan and removed to a plate. For the sauce, we sautéed a shallot, deglazed the pan with sherry and broth, let it simmer with rosemary, whisked in a few knobs of cold butter and then added the chicken back to the pan to warm through.

Cook’s Illustrated was right. Every piece was tender and so, so flavorful. The few bits of chicken skin that I didn’t hack off in the beginning were crispy and golden. And when my husband asked for another thigh, I knew he could at least partially tell which piece was which. Happy Yellow Day!...Happy Yummy Chicken Day...Happy Yellow Chicken Day!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paczki Day

It took us all Fat Tuesday, but we did it. Yup for dinner (yes, dinner) last night we had jelly donuts….or paczkis as they’re called around here. And being that my husband is from Michigan, where in Detroit they call Fat Tuesday, Paczki Day, my husband thought eating paczkis at any time of day was just fine. (They were actually quite delicious with my homemade Curried Pumpkin Tomato Soup.)

We had several bumps in the road along the way to puczkis (pronounced POONCH-ki) making:  My 4 1/2 year-old spilled some of the yeast on the floor (so it had to be swept up and the amount in the dust pan carefully measured!); then there was the exploding resealable plastic bag used to jelly-fill the 'donuts.'  But in the end they were warm, yeasty, sweet and delicious!

In full-dietitian-disclosure, they were a brilliantly lightened version of the deep fried donut. Good Housekeeping developed this version which is actually a sweet yeast dough filled with jelly. Hint: My girls couldn’t tell it was lightened. They still loved having my homemade strawberry rhubarb jam squirt all over their faces. And my husband just loved having ‘donuts’ for dinner.

(Yes, my 4 ½ year old did do her own hair yesterday – with 2 different colored ribbons – but at least one of them matched the color of the jelly!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Teaspoon

It's the one-year anniversary of Teaspoon Communications!  This small business that I own with my two sensational partners, Deanna and Bonnie, has made it one year and we're looking forward to another happy year of being moms and running our little business on the side.

To celebrate, we sent a little 'Happy Birthday Teaspoon' note attached a box of matches printed with our name and a pack of candles to a few folks who mentored or helped us along the way.

I'm quite pleased with my own box of Teaspoon matches; they will come in very handy for the next birthday at my house.  In December, we used up the very last restaurant book of matches.  And we had quite a stash.  Since smoking bans went into effect, have you noticed restaurants don't give out match books anymore?

To accompany my Teaspoon matches and candles in the mail, my baking genius of a partner, Bonnie, included the most delicious cupcake I've eaten in my life in a nifty little cupcake-holder.  It was Kirsch liqueur cake with champagne buttercream frosting and topped with a delicate sparkle-sheen of glitter.  Unfortunately I cannot share the recipe.  But maybe she will share it with us here!  In the meantime, this is the alcohol-infused cupcake recipe I intend to make for my Valentines: Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes