quick advice from a produce company…

“Accept it and move on, otherwise you’ll die of a heart attack.”  K. Venable

I saw this quote last week when I went to pick up an order at my produce company.  It had been one of those days, you know the kind I’m talking about, and it was just the reminder I needed.  There I am writing my check at the counter, picking up herbs, potatoes and other goodies, and I left with a renewed attitude and a smile on my face.  Amazing the little things we can find in daily life that can turn a day around.  And, although I hope it causes no heart attacks and that might be a little extreme, the accept it and move on portion is my mantra right now.

Every day we have choices…where to shop, what to make for dinner, where to send your kids to school, what to buy the grandkids as a gift, how to spend and save money, etc.  The list is limitless, and it is sometimes as trivial as it is important at the same time.  Recently I heard someone say one of the greatest disabilities in life is a bad attitude.  I think about it often, when I feel like crying over spilt milk, (literally), and it is amazing the difference it can make.  Not always easy to change, but worth the effort.

Enjoy the best of food and life, and the freedom that comes in changing our attitude.  And if that doesn’t help, eat some chocolate!  To help you out here is a recipe for delicious, and easy, chocolate-chocolate chip cookies I made this week for my dinner pick up “slice and bake”, enjoy!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Cream together the butter, both sugars, and vanilla on medium speed.  Add eggs, beat well.

In separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  Gradually add in flour mixture to butter mix, incorporating well.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, or ungreased pan, and bake 8-10 minutes until set.  Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

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all in a name…

Menu Choice 1:

Oven Roasted Chicken

Steamed Rice

Garden Salad with homemade dressing

Bread

Menu Choice 2:

Whole Roasted Lemon Chicken with Herbes de Provence & Roasted Organic Carrots

Steamed Jasmine Rice, lightly buttered 

Salad with Butter lettuce, Avocado, Tomato and Lemon Parmesan Vinaigrette

Fresh Camino Bakery Baguette with “chicken drippings gravy”

Hmmm…even if I hadn’t made “both” of these dinners tonight I would still choose menu 2.  What about you?  Amazing how both menu’s are the same foods, but the detail and elaboration in the second just sells it.  You can almost smell it, even taste the flavors.  The ingredients are the same, but it’s the description in the wording that sells it.  The influence of marketing and advertising  is all around us, from product names to promises made of life changing results.  As consumers we are on a quest to look younger, eat better foods, have the best technology, and the list goes on.  But stripped down, isn’t it all the same?

So it is with this simply good dinner.  If you say you’re preparing a French Lemon Chicken or say you bought a chicken to roast from the Teeter, in the end you’ll end up with a fragrant and juicy roast at your dinner table.  But say it like you mean it and describe it well, and your family will think it is tastier even before they eat.  Crispy skin, tender and juicy meat, stop me before I drool!  Make it soon and you’ll see how easy it is, no false advertising here.  Hands down the baguette in the chicken “gravy” is the favorite of both my children.  So if you’re short on dinner ideas and have time to roast, enjoy the best of this simple dinner when you can.

Lemon Parmesan Vinaigrette…

So sorry for the lack of precise measurements here, when I know I’m blogging I try to measure but I had no idea I would be sharing this later.  But, with no measurements and only your taste buds, you can do it also!  In a small mason jar I squeezed the juice of one lemon.  Then I poured in olive oil, about as much oil as lemon juice, maybe a little less, just visually mark the line by looking at the side of the jar.  Then I generously shook grated parmesan into it, probably 3-4 good shakes, added a clove of crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, then shake it until combined.  Simple goodness you can adjust to make your own…add Dijon, fresh herbs, more or less lemon juice, add some champagne vinegar-play with your food!  Toss lightly with butter lettuce or nice greens and any other salad ingredients you want to include.

Whole Roasted Lemon Chicken & Roasted Organic Carrots…

Remove parts from cavity of a whole chicken, rinse cavity then pat dry inside and out with paper towels.  Set chicken in shallow roasting pan, a 9×13 will work just fine.  Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, then squeeze the juice of a lemon that has been cut into wedges over the bird.  Stuff the squeezed lemon wedges into cavity of bird and a few in the pan, along with any fresh herbs you have in your produce drawer or herb garden.  (I think tonight I put some sage and parsley I had snipped a few days ago inside my chicken.  Then, if you happen to have some herbes de provence or another favorite seasoning, sprinkle it on the outside of bird, then you can fancy the name up a bit more!)  Season well outside with salt and pepper.  Peel 2 or 3 carrots and cut into 1″ pieces, then strew in bottom of pan with some of the lemons wedges.  Get creative here, add quartered sweet onions, or whole baby potatoes to the dish- go crazy in your kitchen!  Let bird sit out while oven preheats to 425 degrees.  Place chicken in preheated oven and roast for about 30 minutes before turning the heat down to 375.  Roast an average 4-5 pound bird for about 1 hour and fifteen minutes to one hour and a half, legs will wiggle tons when its done, or you can also check for 165 on meat thermometer if you don’t trust the wiggle test.  Remove from oven, transfer chicken to serving plate and place carrots around the golden brown and crispy chicken, and follow directions below for serving the pan juices with baguette.

Baguette with “chicken drippings gravy”…

I will go ahead and say right now that some of you may find this entirely too rich, too fattening, whatever you want to call it.  We find it simply delicious and no different than spreading bread with butter.  But to each their own, it makes the world go around, right?  That said…All I did was simply was remove the roast chicken from roasting pan to a plate as mentioned above.  Next I sliced my warmed bread into rounds and placed in a shallow rim soup bowl.  Pour all of the pan drippings in chicken pan over the bread, allowing it to sit in juices.  By the time you call everyone to the table the bread will have soaked it up like a little flavor sponge and you’ll be soaking round two before you know it!   “I can’t believe it’s not butter”is right… this is Chicken drippings gravy butter, Enjoy!

**Ina Garten has a similar recipe for Lemon Roast Chicken with Croutons.  I find my adaptation is simpler, and a little lighter as the bread only soaks in juices instead of being tossed in olive oil to make croutons.  I have made lemon roast chicken for years before ever even hearing of Ina Garten, but it was a more Southern style chicken served most often with biscuits.  Both are delicious, try and see, and come up with your family own favorite recipe.

taking chances…

“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”

Chinese proverb

Oysters

That’s what I’m going to do this week, go diving.  Diving for something new to inspire me, something risky, something to spice things up a bit.  Life can peacefully fall into routine, and sometimes we have to shake it up.  Every now and then we need to take a risk, and while we wait to reap the rewards, sometimes you realize the journey is the reward.

Like the old saying goes, “If you shoot for the moon you’ll fall in the stars” type of thing.  I want to put myself out there for a new opportunity, a new adventure.  Every now and then we just need a recharge, and although I didn’t make any New Year resolutions this year, I am just feeling that itch.  There are a lot of people out there who say it better than I do, so I will end with some quotes that I hope you will enjoy as well.  May you continue to enjoy the best of food and life, keep cooking and feeling inspired, and find a new chance to take.

“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” Denis Waitley

“Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” Jimmy Carter

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” Bill Cosby

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” John A. Shedd

“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.” Braveheart

editor’s note…

This post is for you, so you will know how normal I am.  Okay, let me rephrase that please, not how normal I am as we all know that is a stretch, but how normal our family life is at times and that every night at our home is not a feast.  Tonight my family is having leftovers, nothing fresh made, but just “trying to move inventory” as I say.  Repeat, leftovers…

My life, my passion, and my job is to cook and my blog is a way to share what inspires me about food and life.  But, I also want you to know between the grand Holiday menu’s, catering, and dinner pick up’s, we are just normal too.  There are days we have Chic-Fil-A, there are times we eat out, and there are on rare occasions, days I just don’t want to cook.  There, I said it, it’s out there.  Yes, there are a few days out of the year I just don’t want to cook.  There are many days when I cook for everyone else, only to come home and wonder what I’ll feed my family for dinner because I sold out of everything.  It doesn’t happen often, but I LOVE it when people want to cook for me!  I buy Fritos, canned cinnamon rolls for busy breakfast days, and a big secret is that I love to get Lipton Onion Soup Mix, the dry one, and make onion dip with sour cream for the Fritos!  My husband loves the Lipton meatloaf, and although I like my homemade better, I will occasionally make that for him, just ‘cuz he’s so darn sweet.  See how normal we are, it isn’t always French dips with leftover standing rib roast, at least not every day!

We all have our interests & talents, and it definitely makes the world go around as the saying goes!  I cherish the talents my friends have that I don’t, and without them I surely never would have had stylish jeans, a trendy handbag for the season, medical advice a phone call away, or design questions answered.  My intent in sharing recipes, menu’s and ideas is to inspire you and give you ideas, and it fillls a space in my life I didn’t realize was there until I began writing on my blog.  I by no means am Martha Stewart.  I am Julia, it is just what I do, and I thank you for being a part of it.

Enjoy, the best of food and life, everyday, and the leftovers, too!