smothered chicken… and I mean *really* smothered chicken, but not with gravy because I’m on a fancy diet

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. Ever.

“Smothered in what?” I hear someone from the peanut gallery holler and I understand completely – it *does* sound rather violent. Let me explain; traditionally and in its simplest form, Smothered Chicken is chicken that has been simmered in and then served under or ‘smothered’ in a seasoned gravy. And when I say ‘smothered’ I mean, of course,  ‘comforted to death’. Isn’t that nicer? Let’s call my recipe “Comforted Chicken”.

I am a girl who loves her gravy and given free reign and unstoppable arteries I would consume it on everything from oatmeal to ice cream (eew). But, happily, I am reigned in by my vow of health and well-being and so am constantly on the look-out for delectable dishes that won’t comfort me to death. This is one of them. It’s my loose adaptation of Smothered Chicken; chicken simmered in a silky, tangy, lemony-oniony Sauce. It is easy, satisfying and tasty. And when I say ‘tasty’ I mean, of course, ‘lip-smacking, plate-licking, go-back-for-thirds GOOD”.

I like to serve this dish with a side of wilted spinach and maybe a whole-grain pilaf. YUM. I’ve got myself all worked up for it… good thing I’ve got some chicken in the fridge because I think I need some comforting…

 

Comforted Chicken

6 chicken thighs or an equal amount of breast meat

4 onions

2 cloves garlic

1 lemon

1 cup chicken stock

2-3 Tablespoons butter, olive oil, coconut oil or other cooking fat

salt and pepper to taste

We’ve discussed the slicing of onions in previous columns and decided that ‘thinly’ is one of the most vague cooking instructions available. All the same, I am going to ask you to do it. Slice your onions thinly. Use your own good sense and just get them into slices. We can do this. Tears will ensue, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Once the onions are dealt with, slice up your garlic and then put a large skillet on medium heat. Once the skillet has heated up, add your fat and the onions. Let them brown up a little, stirring frequently to avoid any burning. Throw the garlic in with its cousin and then lower the heat. You want the onions and garlic to simmer *without burning* until they are all very limp, very translucent and almost saucy on their own – just this side of caramelized. This will probably take about 5-6 minutes.

The chicken has been patiently waiting for its turn in the pan and now is the time. Squiggie the onions around so that you can fit the chicken pieces, skin down, in the skillet. Let the skin brown against the bottom of the pan before flipping them over and adding the chicken stock. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so. Boneless pieces cook faster than bone-in so be aware of that if you’ve substituted. If you want to speed the process up, you can cover the skillet with a pot lid.

Now it’s time for the lemon. You thought I had forgotten, didn’t you? Lay the slices around in the skillet and then let the whole thing simmer for another 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. If it seems that the liquid is getting too low, you can always add a little more broth – but not too much! The goal is to have the sauce work itself out as the chicken is cooking. You may need to lower the heat and just be a little more patient.

When the chicken has cooked thoroughly (use a thermometer to check – I always have to) you are ready to serve your masterpiece. It’s going to smell like heaven… oh boy! The onions will have melted away into savory goodness that will blend with the lemon and make a sauce that you will lick off your plate. It makes even I, the Gravy Queen, say, “Gravy? Who needs gravy when you have a sauce like THIS?”  Enjoy…

 

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Bible Reading Schedule for February: Love

Hello!

I hope you all have been blessed this month in the Word – I know I have been!  I just finished the schedule for February and thought I would post it now before I forget.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to use a theme that coincided with secular holidays and whatnot, and in the end decided that our January readings about goodness would be followed up beautifully with scriptures concerning Love. It may seem a little cheesy, this being the Valentine’s month and all, but since our minds are already on the subject I thought – why not? These coming days will be drenched in glittering red hearts, chocolate boxes and sugary Hallmark sentiments, it should be at once sobering and exhilarating to remind ourselves what True Love looks and acts like.  This is an extremely wide subject in the Bible that we are seeking to cover in our shortest month so I found it necessary to group scriptures together. I find myself reading more than just the appointed verse for the day this month anyway so I think that will be OK.

May the Lord give us understanding in His word as we seek to know Him better through it!

Enjoy…

February Bible Reading

“Keep yourselves in Love”

1) Leviticus 19:18

2) Deuteronomy 6:5; 30:20

3) Psalm 11:7

4) Psalm 40:16; 119:97

5) Proverbs 8:17

6) Proverbs 10:2; 15:17

7) Matthew 5:43-46

8) Mark 12:33

9) John 3:16; 5:20; 10:17

10) John 13:34-35; 15:10

11) John 14:15; 14:21-24

12) Romans 5:5; 5:8

13) Romans 8:28; 8:35-39

14) Romans 12:9-10

15) Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14

16) 1 Corinthians 8:3

17) 1 Corinthians 13

18) Galatians 2:20; 5:6; 5:22

19) Ephesians 3:17-19; 5:2

20) Philippians 1:9

21) 1 Thessalonians 3:!2; 5:8

22) 1 Timothy 6:11

23) 2 Timothy 1:7; 4:8

24) 1 Peter 1:8

25) 1 John 1-2

26) 1 John 3-5

27) Jude 1:21

28) Revelation 1:5; 2:4; 3:19; 12:11

*What does this verse describe of the character of Love?

*Does this verse say anything about whom and what we are to Love?

*What does this verse describe about what Love ‘looks’ like when it is in action?

* Does this verse speak of whom or what God loves?

*What does this verse describe about the character and nature of God’s love?

none of the doors in my kitchen close on their own

None of the doors in my kitchen close on their own… except the refrigerator door, which always closes on its own, just seconds before I get there with whatever ‘over-full’ thing I happen to be carrying.  Like Jello. Boiling hot, slippery, liquid Jello, splashing up out of its shallow glass container and cascading to the linoleum below as I bump it into the suddenly sealed-shut fridge door.

It’s moments like these that remind me *why* the kitchen is my favorite room in the house- it has linoleum floors! No matter what I spill, I can always wipe it up and begin again more carefully, this time holding the door open with one foot while balancing on the other and slipping the pan into the bottom shelf where it will stay until all is solid and well.

I just made Jello from scratch for the first time using four packages of unflavored gelatin (obtained at the local grocery store, in the ‘Jello Aisle’) and four cups of white cranberry/peach juice (also found at the store, only in the “Juice Aisle”….)

That’s it. Two ingredients. It is idiotically simple, even though it took me forever to find the directions in the little box (I guess even idiotically simply just isn’t simple enough- woe is me). Come to find out the directions were inscribed on the individual packets of gelatin (duh)… I shall remember that for next time should this grand Jello experiment result in something even remotely Jello-like and we need to repeat the process.

One cup of cold juice gets poured over four packets of powdered gelatin. Three cups of  cold juice are heated over the stove until they are boiling. While the juice is working itself up to a boil, the gelatin is relaxing and swelling in the cold liquid- turning into a fascinating sort of gelatinous glob. Once the juice has boiled, the cold gelatin is stirred in until it is fully dissolved, then poured into a waiting 9×13 pan and sent to sit in the fridge until it is solid and ‘jiggly’. That is, of course, unless you spill it all trying to slip it in before the door violently and arbitrarily slams shut before you… In that case, I would suggest making something less tricky, like Pancakes Barbara.

(Convenient Literary Time Lapse Complete With Comfortable Bluegrass Music and Some Tea)

Here we are at the end of the day. The dishes are almost done, the laundry is almost folded and my child is almost asleep. I hear him in his little room at the end of the hall, murmuring his goodnight song to the stuffed woodland creatures dangling from the mobile over his crib. I’m exhausted and could really go for something cool and fruity.

Has the jello jelled? Yes it has. Hello there, my lovely, how charming you look, all glistening and gelatinous!

Ladies and Gentlemen – we have Jello, and not just any jello, but a perfect Homemade jello with no added sugars, colors, flavors or chemicals – just pure jiggly goodness. And while we are on the subject of jello’s goodness, let me say a few words about the health benefits of gelatin, the reason why jello is so adorably jello-like. Gelatin; it’s good for your aching knees, your brittle hair, your stubby nails, your lack-luster skin, your sluggish digestion and last but not least, your over-worked immune system.  Some studies suggest that the main constituents in gelatin may improve sleep quality and help regulate ones weight. I like those suggestions! It’s exceedingly low in fat and high in protein.  Sounds like much more than just a delicious snack! In accordance with our new year’s resolutions to eat more life-nourishing foods, I’m going to make jello… a lot… and eat it with abandon. The juice aisle is filled with flavors to be tried and I’m thinking chunks of fruit would be brilliant if stirred in before chilling. Oh boy, there is fun to be had here! Enjoy…

Month-by-Month Topical Bible Reading Schedule: Seeking Good in January

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I know – this is a cooking blog.

It’s true that I do a lot of cooking, but I am also a very busy wife and mama who struggles to find quiet time and has been searching for a reasonable Bible reading plan to use this new year. This will not be the year I am able to read 10 chapters a day and finish the entire book by June. This is not the year I will be able to fill out a detailed prayer journal with sketches and personal observations about the devotional I am reading. This is the year I need scriptures to read out loud to my squirmy little one in the morning and then carry, pinned to my mental cork board, throughout the day to meditate on while I wash dishes, change diapers and, of course, cook.

Well, after a couple of weeks of praying and seeking the Lord for an answer, I got an idea.

Here’s the plan. I love topical studies. Love. Love. Love. I find it an extremely efficient and absorbable way to study God’s work. I believe that the Bible interprets itself and therefore when you read about a certain topic throughout the entire book, you get a complete and pure picture of it. Does that make sense? So each month Bruin and I will be studying a different topic. Each day gets a scripture or two to read and a question to answer or think about.

Since this good gift was from the Lord, I want to make it available to you readers, maybe it will fill a need in your own life? Let me know if you have any ideas for topics for future months. Some that I thought of were Joy, Peace, Hope, Faith, Speech, Thanks, Grace… etc.

Peace to thee….

Andi

January

“Diligently Seek Good”

Theme: Proverbs 11:27 “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor.”

Scripture Readings:

1. Genesis 1:31

2. Psalms 65:11

3. Psalms 34:8

4. Psalms 33:5

5. Psalms 37:3; Psalms 34:14

6. Psalms 54:6

7. Psalms 73:28

8.Psalms 107:9

9. Psalms 119:66

10. Psalms 119:71

11. Proverbs 2:9

12. Proverbs 12:25; Proverbs 17:22

13. Matthew 5:16

14. Matthew 5:44

15. Matthew 12:34-35

16. Luke 10:42

17. John 10:11

18. John 16:33

19. Acts 10:38

20. Romans 8:28

21. Romans 12:2

22. Romans 12:21

23. Galatians 5:22

24. Ephesians 2:10

25. Ephesians 4:29

26. Philippians 1:6

27. Philippians 4:8

28. 1 Timothy 6:12

29. James 1:12

30. James 4:17

31. 1 Peter 4:10

Questions: What is being defined as ‘good’. How is this applicable to my life? What lesson, truth, promise, warning, example is there?  Pray about the scripture and ask the Lord to open your eyes to His truth. Ask for wisdom and the grace to, through His strength, hide His word in your heart and refrain from sin. Ask for the grace to abide in Him and receive life from His word.

Additional Readings:

Psalms 86:5; Psalms 100:5; Proverbs 22:1; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:50; Romans 3:12; Romans 12:9;

2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Timothy 1:5;  2 Timothy 2:3; Titus 2:5; Hebrews 13:9