Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas, a terrible-but-delicious recipe, etc

(recipe at the bottom)

I really, really like socks. The more insane the better. At Christmas, when everyone opens up their packages of garish atrocities, I cross my fingers that they'll pass them on to me.

This year I only got one pair of socks. Black with red and white candy canes. I was disappointed. I usually get at least three pair. Sigh. James got a three-pack of nice Chaps socks with fuzzy lining around the sole of the foot. I eyed them covetously, but he always needs new socks, and besides, his feet dwarf even my flippers.

So we got all our gifts home, and I threw all the clothes in the wash, and hey! out of the dryer came three pairs of very tightly-knit, very nice, very SMALL (compared to what they were) socks. So I did, after all, get more than one pair of socks for Christmas. Even if I had to accidentally steal them from my husband.

He got a really nice flannel button-down shirt from his mom for Christmas, too. I didn't try to shrink it--I followed the washing instructions and everything--, but I must admit I did hope, just a little bit...

No dice. Stupid well-made shirt didn't even shrink a millimeter.

(but I can still wear it to bed, HAH!)

Other stuff we got:

Me: From my brother- and mother-in-law, a whole bunch of the one and only perfume in the world that doesn't smell like cat butts on me, Chanel Chance. I don't know what's wrong with me, but any other fragrance just turns sour the second it comes into contact with my skin. This Chanel stuff actually smells better on me than it does in the bottle. I wonder what the difference is. I have body sprays and things, but I always spray them on my clothing, never on my skin. Anyway, my brother-in-law retrieved the name of this perfume from somewhere in the back of his head. I ran out years ago, and I don't exactly talk about perfume all day, so I was pretty impressed.

Grace: She had a walking toy that she liked and used, but she got another one (this isn't the exact one she got; I can't find hers, so maybe this is the newer model) for Christmas from Jeremy's aunt. HOLY COWS. The Child is obsessed. She walks around ALL DAY with it, laughing maniacally. It was a great gift.

HOWEVER. It has two different sound settings, presumably one soft and one loud. Hah. Hah. Hah. Soft = I CAN STILL HEAR THAT STUPID MUSIC ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE HOUSE. Loud = I CAN'T HEAR ANYTHING ANYMORE. I don't know what they were thinking, but this toy may make me completely crazy before she finally learns to walk on her own.

Me/Grace/James/Emmeline (even though it was for the girls, James and I were so thrilled with it, it might as well have been for all of us): From my mother-in-law, a Radio flyer wagon (I had an image up here, but Amazon won't let you direct link to their images, so feh).

When we went to Colorado, my sister had one of these, and we took it on one of the outings. Grace loved it, we exclaimed over it, and then I kind of forgot about it. Yeah, it'd be nice to have one, but we are cheapskates. So, when we opened it up, we were ecstatic. This thing is awesome. There are two seat with seat belts and four cup holders. The seats fold down, so you can do all kinds of things with it (like take baby for walk, fold down seats, put down cushy blankets, and voila! a portable crib. It'll be good both for baby/toddler and for when the girls get older. And judging by the beating it took when we put it together, the thing is indestructible.

We got all kinds of good gifts, but those are the ones that stick out the most.

The Child is feeling much better today, but is still really, really clingy. Today I don't really have much to do, but I hope this doesn't last too long. Otherwise we'll be up to our ears in dirty clothes and dishes. That would be smelly.

We had a great time yesterday with our friend. I managed to shower and blow-dry my hair, go grocery shopping with a baby, stop at the bakery, wash three loads of dishes (most of them from cooking), do some laundry, clean a bathroom, pick up the house AND cook dinner all before James even got home from work. All this and I STILL remembered to put pants on. It's a Christmas miracle!

Dinner was delicious, but I can't really take credit for it. For a wedding present, my sister gave me a one-year subscription to Easy Everyday Cooking, and this chicken dish was one of those recipes. Sadly, they are no longer in print. I went to restart my subscription a while ago and couldn't. And then I cried.

This thing is a heart attack in a casserole dish, so I never make it, but it's so easy I think even Grace couldn't screw it up. Even if I fed her a shot of whiskey first.

Chicken Milano (Yes, I'm sure people who know real Italian Cuisine cringe at that title, but I DON'T CARE. It's delicious.)

  • 24 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the recipe calls for 6 4-oz chicken breasts, but never in my life have I encountered a chicken breast that small, which is probably what I get for buying the cheapest, most hormone-laden chicken I can find that still looks edible)
  • 1/2 cup butter (yes, a whole stick of butter)
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup marinara sauce

(I like to brine chicken ahead of time in some salt/sugar water for about an hour, but it's still very juicy and good if you don't do that)

Preheat oven to 350.

Trim, rinse and pat dry chicken. Place one whole stick of butter in a frying pan and set to medium heat (recipe says medium high, but it ALWAYS burns when I do it this way, and I've made this one three different stoves).

While all that delicious butter is melting, roll each chicken breast in small bowl of flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll in bowl of bread crumbs (this part does get messy; I have to keep cleaning off my fingers in between chicken breasts or the egg mixture on my fingers keeps taking off the breading coating from the chicken).

Place chicken breasts in pan o' melted butter, and cook for about ten minutes, turning once. (I take comfort in the fact that about half the butter is still left when I remove the chicken from the pan)

Meanwhile, mix marinara and half and half in casserole dish (I have a 2.5-qt oval Corningware dish that's perfect for this--high sides, just big enough for all the chicken, and not so shallow and wide that all the liquid sits on the bottom while the chicken dries out), holding back about 2 tablespoons.

Mix all three cheese together in a small bowl. Set aside.

When chicken is done, place in casserole dish, cover with cheese, then drizzle remaining sauce over the top of the cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Now I need to go get into some leftovers. Bye.



    My favorite casserole dish is something we call chicken glop.

    16 or 24 oz sour cream
    family size cream of chicken soup
    buncha boneless skinless chicken breasts

    mix wet stuff, pour over breasts in casserole dish.

    350 for an hour and a half.

    easy sides: fork several potatoes and place directly on the oven rack next to the casserole dish when you put it in.
    when you take the glop out, throw some corn niblets in the microwave.

    the "sauce" is good on the potatoes (and i like it on the corn, too) and this is a dish that reheats VERY WELL (coming from someone who doesn't "do" leftovers).

    technically the recipe calls to wrap the chicken in bacon before throwing it in the dish, but the bacon is often underdone/soggy. if you have really lean bacon, maybe...

    I'll let you know how yours turns out - thanks for sharing!

  2. Ooh, new recipe! Sounds good! I'll definitely try it. Does it have a name?

    I can give you a tip for your super-loud toy that's worth a try, at least. Find out where the sound is coming from. Usually there are a few spots in the plastic with little holes like a speaker. Put packing tape (or some other kind of tape, but I recommend something clear and thick so that it sort of blends in and The Child doesn't think it would be fun to peel off) over it. Voila. Helps mute the sound a bit. Another possibility, depending on the manufacture, is to remove the speaker cover, stuff it with tissue, and put it back on. That only works if the openings for the sound to come out are in a section removable with a screwdriver, which I've found is only in about 10% of toys. The tape works pretty well, though, just make sure you flatten the edges really well so that it's not obvious, because my girls love removing the tape.

    The sock thing is hilarious! I love garish socks, too. Penguins are a particular favorite; my sock drawer is starting to turn into all-penguins-all-the-time. But I've got snowmen, menorahs, reindeer, cats, dogs, flowers, leaves, etc. All different colors and designs. I used to like to find socks that had a black or gray background when I worked. People loved it when I wore my nice, muted gray socks... with bright flowers on them. :) Nowadays I can get away with wearing red or green or pink (although I tend to prefer blues and purples and grays) daily, because nobody really cares about a housewife's socks.

    Does brining really keep food moist before you cook it? My husband mentioned that recently, and I'd never heard of it. But I'll try it next time. I made this awesome crockpost pork loin with cranberry orange sauce that had such a wonderful taste and was falling apart in the crockpot, yet was a bit on the dry side.

  3. Adelas: Bacon! Sour Cream! My two weaknesses. I have to try that. Thanks!

    littlehouseofpenguins: I went to try the tape trick today. Unfortunately, the speaker is under a textured and untapeable decorative panel-type thing, and there's not really any way to get underneath it without taking the whole thing apart. However, thank you for the tips, and I can think of at least three other toys that would benefit from such alterations. I was really dismayed earlier today when I realized I was ENJOYING singing and clapping to another round of "WELCOME TO OUR LEARNING FARM/WE HAVE LOTS TO SHOW YOU/DIFFERENT COLORS, MUSIC TOO/ THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO-HOO!" Help.