Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooking with Chicken

Earlier, I said I was going to post about my new outlook on chicken. It's not so much a new "outlook," rather, it's my new approach to cooking chicken.

I roast whole chickens.
I've started doing this for a few reasons. The main reason is that whole chickens are really cheap.

You can usually find whole chickens at any regular grocery store for about $1 per pound. The cheapest I ever find fresh or frozen chicken breasts for is about $1.97 per pound. Granted, with a whole chicken you're paying for bones and skin that will be discarded, so 4 pounds of a whole chicken does not equal 4 pounds of chicken meat. But I still think it comes out to be cheaper.

The other reason I like cooking a whole chicken is that it's very time effective for me. A problem I often encounter while making dinner is that my children don't like for me to ignore them for 30-60 minutes straight while cooking. I can easily find that much spare time throughout the day to work on dinner, but to get it continuously all at once is difficult. I like finding meals I can work on ahead of time (like when the kids are napping), so that there's little left to do right before we eat. Roasted chicken is one such meal.

I use Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken recipe. It's pretty quick and easy. I put it in the oven a few hours before dinner. As you can see in the picture up there, I add chopped carrots to the bottom of the pan before cooking. The juice from the chicken flavors the carrots as they cook. And the natural sugar in the carrot caramelizes them just slightly. Mckay and Dallin will both eat these carrots! So with little effort, I have a delicious roast chicken and the vegetable all ready for dinner. Sure, you can get a rotisserie chicken from the store. But this is a whole lot cheaper.

Since we are just a small family of 3 eaters, we usually have quite a bit of leftover chicken. That's another thing I love about making a whole chicken. I have leftover meat pre-cooked, shredded or cubed and ready to go for a future dinner. We can usually get about 3 meals for our family out of one 4 or 5 pound chicken. I've used the chicken for tons of different dinners like:

Shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches
Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken Tortilla Soup (a great hearty soup for a cold day, with a little spice to it)
Chicken Salad Sandwiches or Wraps
Chicken Pizza

The chicken is flavorful and juicy enough that you can eat it by itself as the main dish, but it's a "clean" flavor that won't clash when you dress up the leftovers for other dishes.

I still use regular ol' chicken breasts in meals I need uncooked chicken for, or at times when I don't feel like making a whole chicken. But I like this new approach I've found. And I feel so cool cooking up a fancy whole chicken for a regular weekday meal like it ain't no thing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dishwasher's Apprentice


Dallin is becoming quite the little helper with unloading the dishwasher. He loves doing it. I'm not surprised since it involves two of his favorite activities: sorting and stacking. He asks at least twice daily if we can unload the dishwasher. His way of asking is standing by the dishwasher, pulling on the handle and saying "Open!" as clearly as he can until I relent.

On occasions when the dishwasher is opened and found to be empty, he gets this look of disappointment on his face. This looks says, "Why is this not full of dishes? Have you done nothing the whole time I was sleeping?!"

When it is full of dishes, he's pretty good at putting them away. He knows where things go and can put them in their cabinets and drawers (with a little help from me). When it comes time to unload the silverware, I take our silverware tray from its drawer and he sorts into the compartments. Aside from a few mix ups with small and large forks/spoons, he gets them mostly right.
Despite his skill, he is still a 2 year old so you have to watch him closely because he can get carried away. Sometimes I feel a little like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice. If I have him sorting the silverware, but then get distracted for a minute and I'm not there to stop him, he'll keep going and start sorting the silverware back into the dishwasher.
Every. last. piece.

And he'll sneak some of the Tupperware away and play with it.
When I catch him, I make him sort the silverware back properly.
He doesn't look very happy about that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Connor the lump

Connor is 4 months old now. He's a really happy baby and he smiles all the time. He eats a lot and has the girth to show for it. He now weighs 15 lbs 10 oz. and is above 50th percentile for weight, height, and head circumference. He's quickly catching up to Dallin.

I love their matching pajamas! Connor is wearing a 6 month size one and Dallin's is a 12 month size. Granted, these pajamas are big on Connor, and Dallin's are really snug, but they size gap is closing between them. Connor is starting to wear clothes that Dallin was still wearing at 18 months.

Connor is not rolling over yet and hasn't really tried to yet. He's still just a lump on the carpet. I think the problem is that he is such a content baby, when you lay him down on his tummy he just lays there and doesn't fight to get out of it. He can lift his chest off the ground very well and is building some great muscle strength, but no desire to roll. We're working on it!

He does squirm a lot though. He can scoot a few inches on the floor or rotate his body around 90 degrees. He's always kicking or moving his arms around. I'd take a video to show you, but he's sleeping right now, so I'm not bothering him. But here's a flipbook video of sorts so you can get a feel for what his movements look like.
video

Connor and Dallin are pretty good buds. Dallin is always checking on Connor and giving him hugs and kisses. Connor often has a face like this:
He keeps a wary eye on Dallin. When the "loving" gets to be too much for Connor, he'll cry...
...and then Dallin will kiss it better.

But despite all that, Connor really does love having his big brother around. When I'm busy and Connor is left to himself for A bit, he'll fuss, and then Dallin will go keep him company by hugging him/ laying on him.
And Connor likes it.
If Dallin tries to leave, Connor will fuss again until his brother returns.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some "Halloween" fun


Some friends from church gave us a box of old clothes that their boys had grown out of but would fit Dallin soon. I went through the box to sort the clothes into sizes. In the box, I found a scary Halloween "scream" mask. So, I did what anyone would do with a scary mask in February: I hung it up by the front door so it would scare Mckay when he came home from school.
I was giggling with anticipation the entire day over my practical joke. This was gonna scare the pants off him! In the evening, when it was time for Mckay to get home, Dallin and I waited nearby so we could see every bit of Mckay's face as he walked through the door. We saw him coming through the window, he opened the front door, and...

Mckay was looking down, reading a book and did not even see the mask! After standing in the open doorway for a few seconds, finishing the line he was reading, he finally looked up, gave a casual glance at the mask and said, "What is this?" I said, "It was supposed to scare you." His reply: "But it's not Halloween. I wasn't expecting a mask." Exactly! That what getting scared means! You see something you weren't expecting and it startles you! In October, you're expecting scary decorations. When they suddenly appear in February, it should scare you! He just didn't get it...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentine

For Valentine's Day, we had a quiet dinner at home. I made cheese fondue using Neil and Ashley's recipe. Goodness gracious, that stuff was delicious!!! I put in a little too much cheese so it was a bit thick, but very smooth and tasty. I had imagined fondue being difficult to make, but it's pretty easy if you have an awesome recipe to use. If I can make a fondue with a baby strapped to my chest while Dallin unloads the dishes onto the floor, creating booby traps for my feet that I can't see over Connor's rotund body(see above picture for rotundness), and STILL have it turn out all right, I think anyone can handle it.

We ate on the floor on a mat Mckay got in Thailand. To dip in our fondue we had ham chunks, broccoli, asparagus, roasted potatoes, french bread, and apple slices.
And of course, what is Valentines day without a glass of Martinelli's?

Dallin got to join us on the floor. And we let him sit in his good old friend: the bumbo.
Yes, Dallin is already working on multiplication.

We ate and ate our fondue while watching Jeopardy. What could be more romantic than that?

Dessert was a Raspberry Streusel Pie.
Did you notice how I put a little heart on the crust of each piece?
Dallin did.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I hate you blogger.

I have about 3 or 4 blog posts rolling around in my head right now that I really want to write. Unfortunately, Blogger is being weird and it won't upload my pictures. I've been trying for 3 days now! And let's face it, my posts aren't half as exciting without pictures. No one wants to just hear about what I ate for Valentine's Day, they want to see it!

As a teaser (and to write them down so I don't forget what I plan to blog about), here are some upcoming posts you might see:

Connor, the lump
A little Halloween Fun
My new outlook on Chicken
A general catch up post on our life

Hopefully blogger will start working soon. I know you don't want to miss out on these gems.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bow Ties

Dallin and Connor wore matching bow ties to church today.

I made them out of felt inspired by this.
I don't think Dallin understood that him and Connor were matching, but he sure got a kick out of sitting together and holding his hand while we took pictures.