Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Squeaky Clean by Lady of the House

When I have the luxury of a trip to the grocery store that includes my husband, I usually clear off to sniff bars of soap and read the detergent labels. I have a total thing for products, okay, an absolute weakness. I realized we had a situation when I discovered not two, but three different bottles of dish soap under the kitchen sink, four all-purpose cleansers, and a bounty of solvents that would make even Mr. Clean's ugly head spin.

A detox was in order. The typical shift from commercial-grade toxic cleansers, or a greening wasn't the plan, I needed to silence all the cheery, organic and typographically yummy labels beckoning me over and over again. Enter Casabella, an empty spray bottle, a few handy cloths and the recipe to remedy all the grocery store bottle-huffing.

So here's how it works. It's simple. You'll need a spray bottle and a few things from around the house.
1. For general surface cleaning: Baking soda -- 2 tablespoons to 16 ounces of warm water
2. To hit your windows and mirrors: Distilled White Vinegar -- 1 teaspoon to 16 ounces of warm water
3. To disinfect: Tea Tree Oil -- 10-20 drops to 16 ounces of warm water

(The recipes above come from Casabella's handy TIPS found on their website

Keep house sensibly, safely, and save your pennies for vacation.

Happy Spring cleaning, lovelies!!

{ Lady of the House }

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vacation Inspiration: Southern Food

It's 9:40 p.m.  The husband and I just arrived home after a weekend in Greenville, SC. We chowed down Jimmy Johns subs (I needed something fast, very fast), and now we're the husband is watching golf.

I must admit, there was zero cooking going on this weekend. But there was plenty of eating with dear friends. There's not much better than gathering around a table as food, drink, and conversation flow freely.

Now, before I fall into a post-vacation coma, I'll leave you with a few observations about my time in the south:

  1. There is GOOD FOOD in Greenville, SC. One of my favorites was Soby's. Our rowdy group was so pleased with our bacon encrusted pork, banana cream pie, braised potatoes (drooling just thinking about those), fried green tomatoes, and, everything, really, that we insisted the chef come to our table to be lauded with our praise. Well, Chef Shaun Garcia was a good sport. Such a good sport, in fact, that he indulged the table's demand for a photo op. With me. I was blushing a lot, but thought you deserved to enjoy my moment with the Chef.
  2. Southern people wear a lot of collared shirts. It looks sharp, folks. Keep it up.
  3. I need to cook something southern. While wearing a collared shirt. That's my goal for the week.
So, this post is more than a regurgitation of my vacation; it's a commitment. Come back on Friday for something inspired by the south. I don't know what it will be yet, but if the food I scarfed this weekend is any indication, it will be good. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Glazed Carrots

It's 7:00 p.m. The family is gathering at the table and the roast beast is ready to be sliced. And you have no vegetable ready to feed your family.

Am I the only one who's been in this situation? Please, tell me I'm not alone.

The side dish is far too often an afterthought. I'm as guilty as the next gal of warming up a bowl of peas in the microwave. (I do have a thing for frozen peas, by the way. So sweet and good.) But plan just 5 minutes ahead, and you can whip up these delicious glazed carrots.  If slicing and dicing doesn't fit your timetable for the evening, just toss some baby carrots in the pan and increase the cooking time a bit.

But even if you don't have time to make these carrots, just savor dinner with the ones you love. That's what's most important.

Glazed Carrots
Serves: 4

1/5 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" coins
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, bring the carrots and chicken broth to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to high, and boil about 2 minutes.
Stir in honey and butter and continue to boil until the carrots are tender and gazed, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. (Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you happen to have some on hand.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Heart Japan by Lady of the House

I'm thinking of Japan as I sit down to write, and I've decided rather than take you on a tour of my new digs, it may serve us all better to let you in on a few ways to shop for the home and thus help out in creative ways. As you know, feathering the nest is basically my M-O, but I do love giving my pennies to companies with heart. I'm guessing you do too.

First of all, connect yourselves with the big boys doing big things in Japan. They're set up to make order of chaos, and we can all feel at ease sending donations to household names.

Secondly, if you'd like to support some fabulous artists AND the relief efforts in Japan, look no further...

and your front hall closet with a few fabulous hanging sachets. They're straight out of that origami phase you attempted as a kid, but better. (I'm going to hang mine on the dangling light cords in the closets. Oh and P.S. Moths detest lavender and men are turned on by the smell. I'm just sayin')

after everyone with a deliciously soft cotton towel. Well, try. These are so delicately beautiful, you may have difficulty. (Mama's think Aiden and Anais meets your splattered kitchen counter. Yes, that pure and pretty. Hello, the blanket!) These towels are printed by hand in Japan, and I almost peed my pants before Christmas trying to decide which one to choose for which Auntie. Every single one is perfection.

with prints and greetings from Dutch Door Press. Their state bird series honors the places you've been, the places you come from, the places you plan to go, ie. instantly thoughtful gifts/instantly authentic decor. And the cards are so adorable, they're worth framing.

If you're out at the shops, or in need of a thing or two for your place, consider how far your moolah is going, and where it's going. I'm astounded at the grace and give exhibited in the average human being. We can be wonderful when we consider others. God bless Japan.

{ Lady of the House }

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Half Birthday, Hot Dinner Happy Home!

That's right. Hot Dinner Happy Home is officially six months old. Since I have no idea how to hang streamers and balloons on a website or throw virtual confetti, I've compiled a list of my favorite hot dinners from the past six months. If you haven't tried these gems yet, it's about time.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with a little update...

We've officially entered the season of Spring. In theory, this means the weather will warm up. (Those of us in Wisconsin are chortling with won't warm up until July, and we're not fooled by those birds chirping.) To ensure there is plenty of time to stop and smell the roses (once they actually bloom...again, in July), I'm going scale back on Hot Dinner Happy Home posts. Keep coming back for new content on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. You can spend Tuesdays and Thursdays organizing your sock drawer and trying not to miss us too much.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

My friends, Craig and Brandon, and I were recently discussing the difference between dinner and supper. Honestly, none of us knew the difference. So we did the only logical thing: We Googled it.

According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, dinner is "the principal meal of the day." Supper, on the other hand, is "the evening meal especially when dinner is taken at midday." I hope I've enlightened you.

This weekend, the husband and I had some friends over for a hearty Sunday Supper. The company was glorious. And the food? Also glorious.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables
Serves: 6

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
1.5 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, divided
Salt and pepper
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
5 tablespoons softened butter, divided

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss together squash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, onion, garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a very large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 3 tablespoons butter with the remaining 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning. Use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the chicken breasts, creating a pocket between the skin and the meat. Evenly divide the seasoned butter between the chicken breasts, rubbing it underneath the skin. Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons of plain butter on top of the skin. Season with salt and pepper.

After the vegetables have roasted for the initial 15 minutes, place the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven and roast an additional 35 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees. Transfer everything to a serving platter, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My name is Erin. And, yes, I'm Irish. 

When I was a wee lass, I needed to look up the meaning of my name. Probably a school project. Anyway, I was a bit put out to uncover that one meaning of my name is "Ireland." I was hoping for something like "Most Amazing Person Ever." 

As I've gotten older, though, "Ireland" has grown on me. Each time I see a sign emblazoned with "Erin go Bragh!", I feel a twinge of pride. And on St. Patrick's Day, I wear as much green as possible.

Erin, Oh Erin 
By Thomas Moore 

Like the bright lamp, that shone in Kildare's holy fane,
And burn'd through long ages of darkness and storm, 
Is the heart that sorrows have frown'd on in vain, 
Whose spirit outlives them, unfading and warm. 
Erin, oh Erin, thus bright through the tears 
Of a long night of bondage, thy spirit appears. 

The nations have fallen, and thou still art young, 
Thy sun is but rising, when others are set; 
And though slavery's cloud o'er thy morning hath hung, 
The full noon of freedom shall beam round thee yet. 
Erin, oh Erin, though long in the shade, 
Thy star will shine out when the proudest shall fade. 

Unchill'd by the rain, and unwaked by the wind, 
The lily lies sleeping through winter's cold hour, 
Till Spring's light touch her fetters unbind, 
And daylight and liberty bless the young flower.
Thus Erin, oh Erin, thy winter is past, 
And the hope that lived through it shall blossom at last.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Let it Rain by Lady of the House

It's been drizzling for days here in San Francisco. I made someone laugh on the street yesterday when I attempted to pop open my free-with-a-piece-of-luggage umbrella that balked and bent in the wind. It wasn't fabulous, that's for sure.

My humbling experience has me devising a perfect rain get-up. Are you ready for April showers? I'm not! I need...

A proper pair of boots...

A sensible coat...
A dazzling brollie...

Oh, and a place to set her once I'm back for a hot cup of tea...
Cozy up, everybody!

{ Lady of the House }

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to...

Last week, I made Turkey Meatloaf Florentine. One of the key ingredients is spinach. Because I am too busy/lazy/whatever to steam my own spinach for this recipe, I rely on the frozen stuff to do the job. Every time I find myself faced with a box of thawed frozen spinach, I have the same question in my mind...


Last week was no exception.

Over the years I've tried several methods for removing excess liquid from my spinach:

  • Wringing it out with paper towels.
  • Squeezing it with my two little fists.
  • Mushing it between two plates. (Not kidding.)
This time, I wanted to try a new technique. I placed the spinach in my strainer and pushed the liquid out.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Erin, please, oh PLEASE, tell us which is your preferred method for drying out frozen spinach!" Well, it's your lucky day! 

You're going to laugh, but my favorite way was smooshing the spinach between two plates. I know...this sounds totally crazy. But it was simple to hang on to the plates and the even pressure on all the spinach got the liquid out easily and effectively. 

One word of warning: If you give this a try, remember to squeeze the plates gently so you don't break them and cut your hands and bleed all over your spinach. Just sayin'. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders

Sometimes you make Sole Meuniere for dinner.  Other times, you need to keep it simple.

Enter homemade chicken tenders.

The husband was happy.

Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders
Serves: 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon seasoned salt (or your favorite seasoning)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Cut each chicken breast into 1" strips lengthwise. Place chicken breasts and buttermilk in a Ziploc baggie. Mush it around to coat, and refrigerate one hour.

Preheat oven to 450. In one shallow bowl, combine flour and 1 tablespoon seasoned salt. In a second shallow bowl, beat together egg, water, and 1 teaspoon seasoned salt. In a third shallow bowl, place breadcrumbs.

Remove chicken from the marinade, and pat it dry. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour, patting off excess. Then dip in egg, allowing excess to drip off.

Finally, roll chicken in breadcrumbs, patting so they adhere. Place chicken strips on a greased baking sheet. Mist chicken strips with vegetable oil spray and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.*

*The husband dips his chicken tenders in honey, straight up. I'm a honey-mustard kind of gal myself.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf Florentine

The word "meatloaf" makes me giggle. "Loaf." It just sounds so funny!

I went through a phase in high school when I was way too cool for meatloaf. (I can imagine my poor mother rolling her eyes as she reads this. For all the nights I poo-poo'ed this Midwestern delicacy, Mom, I apologize.) Once I got a bit older I realized something important about meatloaf: It is awesome. Who cares if it's trendy or cool or funny-sounding? Well, who except for high-schoolers, that is.

The other day I made one of my all-time favorite meals: Turkey Meatloaf Florentine. This kid-friendly meatloaf has a tangy-sweet glaze made with honey and mustard. But parents will be just as pleased because you sneak a bit of spinach into mix along with heart-healthy ground turkey.

Give this dinner a try on your pickiest eater, and let me know how it goes!

Turkey Meatloaf Florentine
Serves: 6

½ cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup chopped onion (this is about ¼ of a large onion)
1 ½ pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together breadcrumbs, eggs, ketchup, garlic, basil, spinach, and onion. Gently fold in the turkey until just combined. (You don't want to overmix once you add the turkey because it will make your meatloaf dense.)

In a 9” x 13” baking dish, shape mixture into a 9” x 4” loaf*. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, mix together mustard and honey; brush on meatloaf after the initial 45 minutes of cook time. 

Bake an additional 25-25 minutes, or until meatloaf has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let meatloaf rest 10 minutes before slicing. 

*If you're having a hard time forming your meatloaf into a 9" x 4" shape, try this handy-dandy trick. Draw a 9" x 4" rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Place it on your baking dish, pencil side down. Now use this guide to make sure your meatloaf is the perfect size! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Roasted Carrots

I think 350 is the magic temperature. Just about everything cooks at 350.

Except one of my all-time, very favorite side dishes: roasted vegetables. Those suckers usually cook in a hot, hot, hot oven.   

The other day, I had a real hankerin' for oven roasted carrots, but I was making meatloaf. Meatloaf, unsurprisingly, cooks at 350. After a bit of reconnaisaince, I figured out how to take advantage of the magic temp to roast veggies. I started the carrots while my meatloaf was cooking. Then I finished them at a high temperature while my main course rested. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but it was pretty genius.

Come back tomorrow for my meatloaf recipe. (Also genius.)

Roasted Carrots
Serves: 6

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" slices on the diagonal
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Place carrots in a single row on a large baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Increase oven temperature to 450. Drizzle carrots with honey and roast for 10 more minutes.  Transfer carrots to serving dish.  Stir in lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mr. Postman! by Lady of the House

I recently learned that the mail arrived sometimes 12 times a day in Victorian England. Coincidentally, I also recently decided I was born in the wrong era.

It's a dramatic understatement to say I love mail. Despite my best efforts to temper a wild romantic within, I have decided three parcels (one with fine soaps from Italy), two breezy hand-scrawled letters from afar (one from someone I miss and wonder about), and a peppering of postcards and glossy catalogs are destined to arrive at my doorstep each day. I am at a complete loss to quell these lofty hopes.

So, when the typical arrives--the we-didn't-receive-your-final-payment notice, and ValPaks for the last 3 tenants, and 6 pre-approved credit card offers, and an oh so exciting catalog for camping gear--the romantic is dropped like a bad pair of clip-on earrings and the claws come out.

You already know I'm private. (Hello! Lady of the House??) So when I've decided my name and my address have been whored out, cross-referenced and tasted enough of ooh-you-like-that-then-you'll-love-this, I reach for That's right people. The Direct Marketing Association. I just updated my profile now that we have a new address (one I think we can live with for the next little while), and I smiled to think of all the junk mail that won't be printed in vain. An empty mailbox is another thing to deal with in my case, but I do fare better this way.

I wonder, do you end up dumping most of the mail in the recycling bin? Oh my goodness, sign up! It's free, and it's your chance to stick it to the Man. Okay, not really, but it's that same sick joy you might have had tattling on the kid cheating in biology. (Wonder how his love life is these days?)

With, you're dealing with the people hounding you. You can opt out of everything (my personal favorite), opt out of most things and opt in to a few old standby catalogs you do enjoy receiving, and you can also link to a portion of the site that handles those pesky credit card offers.

Now go write someone a letter for Pete's sake.

{ Lady of the House }

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tilapia with Oranges and Olives

The husband requested tilapia for dinner the other day. Because I bought a bushel of oranges at Costco recently, I thought I'd bake the tilapia in foil packets with orange slices on top. I wanted to add some flair, and I had this idea in my mind that oranges and olives would be a good combination. So, some chopped Kalamata olives went into the packets, too. When I opened up the foil, a wave of orange-y steam smacked me in the face.  I liked it. I thought the fish tasted pretty darn good, too.

The husband, on the other hand...not so much.

He looked up at me with his beautiful, brown eyes, and said, "This isn't how you made it last time, was it?"

Uh oh.

After some fact-finding questions, I discovered that the husband doesn't like baked oranges. And the combo of oranges and olives really weirded him out. Well, you live, you learn. No more savory oranges for the husband.

But I'm curious, readers. What about you? Was I crazy with my orange-olive combo?

Tilapia with Oranges and Olives

2 tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
6 thin orange slices
2 tablespoons white wine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut two large pieces of aluminum foil to create your packets. Place one tilapia fillet on each piece of foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Evenly divide garlic, shallot, parsley, orange zest, and olives between the two packets. Top each fillet with 3 orange slices and 1 tablespoon wine. Carefully fold up the sides of the foil and crimp the top to form a packet. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Has your kitchen ever looked like a crime scene?

Mine has.  On a number of occasions, in fact.  For instance, the time I was Dexter (the serial killer/hero on the hit Showtime series of the same name) for Halloween.  The husband volunteered to splatter fake blood on my costume, and we thought the best place to do said splattering was the kitchen.  I am still finding that doggone blood under my cupboards.  Needless to say, the kitchen is not the best place for a (faux) crime.

The most recent incident was when I was making these green chile chicken enchiladas.  Holy cow, these suckers are messy!  Enchilada sauce on the counter and floor.  Red, sticky fingerprints on the microwave.  But their messiness is rivaled only by their deliciousness, so don't let it hold you back.  In fact, revel in the enchilada sauce-splatter.  If you have kids, get them involved in dipping the tortillas in the sauce.  They'll love it.  And you won't have to mess up your manicure.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Serves: 6-8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 ounce can diced green chiles
4 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Salt and pepper
2 10-ounce cans red enchilada sauce
12-16 corn tortillas
1/3 cup shredded cheese
Sour cream and salsa, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in chiles, chicken, and cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, warm up enchilada sauce in a medium saucepan. Pour 1/2 cup sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Wrap corn tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave until they are pliable, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Dip one tortilla into enchilada sauce. Place about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla and roll up tightly. Place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish and repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken mixture.

Pour 1 cup of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas in the baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, until the enchiladas are hot and the sauce is bubbly.  Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Science Geek strikes again!

The husband has dreams of being a line chef, so my mom gave him his own griddle. This weekend, the husband decided to christen his new culinary toy with homemade buttermilk pancakes.

Grand idea! I thought. I love buttermilk pancakes!

One minor issue. The likelihood of me having buttermilk on hand was incredibly small. The likelihood of me changing out of my jammies to buy buttermilk at the grocery store? Even smaller.

This was when my inner science geek took over. I had read that you could add lemon juice to milk and use that in place of buttermilk. Well, it was high time I did a little experiment to test this out.

I whisked lemon juice into regular old milk from my fridge. Then, I let the mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes to thicken. Although I was dubious when I went to check the results, the experiment worked! The milk had thickened up and looked just like buttermilk. And, most importantly, it made the husband's pancakes light and fluffy.

So, next time you're making pancakes, unleash your inner science geek and remember this:

1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 cup milk = buttermilk!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

I promised more quinoa recipes, and today I deliver!  If you have leftover Quinoa Pilaf, you can stir the spices, dried cranberries, pecans, and parsley into the pilaf, then spoon it into the baked acorn squash.

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves: 4

2 acorn squash
Vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons honey, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Microwave squash on high power for about 3 minutes.  (This will soften the squash so it's easier to cut.)  Cut each squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out and discard the seeds.  

Coat a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Brush 1/2 teaspoon honey on the cut side of each squash half. Place squash on the baking sheet cut-side down. Bake about 40 minutes, until the squash is tender. 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and saute until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, and ginger, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in quinoa and allow it to toast for about 2 minutes.  Add broth and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Bring liquid to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until quinoa has absorbed the liquid and is tender, about 15 minutes. 
Stir lemon juice, pecans, cranberries, and parsley into quinoa.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Remove squash from baking dish and place onto your serving platter.  Sprinkle each squash half with salt and pepper, and fill with one quarter of the quinoa mixture.  Drizzle remaining honey on top, and serve.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Simply Dashing! by Lady of the House

* pretty photo by Dash & Albert *

Now that our little one is (ahem!) enjoying meals with us, I've been plotting ways to protect the ground beneath her. Despite my best efforts to keep things neat, inevitably a long-handled spoon flops from a little dish, she loses those little bits of banana and of course there's always the ever-dreaded sneeze. I had it in mind to make my own so-called splat mat with some pretty oilcloth fabric, and of course I could just as easily order one, but I can't bring myself to make the house look like a daycare center.

To my extreme delight, I learned today that one of my favorite rug companies, Dash and Albert, also offers several of their designs in indoor/outdoor fabric, or as they put it, "superheroic polypropylene." Are you picturing beach mats? I was too, but check them out and you'll see why they bothered to throw 'indoor' beside 'outdoor' when they went to market. They're lovely, and supposedly they can be scrubbed, hosed down and even bleached if necessary. I believe this may be the perfect dining room rug--kids or no kids. But with all the sizes on offer and prices this reasonable, I may put one in every room!

{ Lady of the House }

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Yesterday I told you about the wonderful visit I had with my mom. We cooked ourselves a delicious dinner with the items we scored during our grocery shopping trip: Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. It was so good. But do you know what's not good? My picture of said stuffed chicken. I'm obviously not a photographer. Please do not let the crummy picture deter you from making this dinner. Like I said, it tasted so good.

P.S. If you don't feel like mixing all the herbs into the goat cheese, I'm sure you could purchase herbed goat cheese and just use that instead.

P.P.S. Today's my dad's birthday.  Happy birthday, Pops!

Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves: 2 (my mom and me)

2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a sharp knife, cut a wide, deep pocket in each chicken breast.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide mixture in half, and roll each half into a cylinder.  Place one cylinder of goat cheese into the pocket you created in each chicken breast.  Use toothpicks to "sew" the chicken breast closed so the cheese doesn't ooze out when it cooks.  Dust chicken with flour.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side, to give it a golden-brown color.  Place skillet in the preheated oven and cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  Remove chicken to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.  Remove toothpicks and slice chicken on the bias for a lovely presentation.  Or just dig in!