This post comes with a warning.
The following is a true story. What you are about to read may make you nervous, twitchy, and inclined to run off and close all your windows.
You have been warned.
… Last Thursday, I was in a creative mood. I had chicken in the fridge, waiting to be eaten, as well as a beautiful red pepper that couldn’t go to waste. My eye fell on a lovely port wine that we use as a lasting substitute for red wine in cooking. It was time to combine the paints of pepper, port, and poultry to create of painting of artistic perfection. I hoped to hit the notes of this culinary symphony with perfect intonation.
(That’s a lot of cringe-inducing alliteration and clumsy artistic imagery in one paragraph, you say? Oh, I could do so much worse, dear reader. So. Much. Worse.)
Incidentally, last Thursday was also a lovely day. I threw all the windows open wide and left the sliding door open (with screens intact, of course). I then proceeded to make Balsamic Port Chicken (recipe below).
It was when I started simmering the vinegar and port that I noticed there seemed to be an awful lot of activity around my head. I looked to my right … and promptly wish I hadn’t.
We hang our bananas from hooks on the sides of our cabinets to keep them from turning into black mush under their own weight. At that moment, they were black …
… with fruit flies.
I can tell you that I screamed like a little girl, threw my wooden stirring spoon somewhere in the direction of the stove, and high-tailed it out of there.
Somewhere in the recesses of my massively intelligent head, I knew that fruit flies are attracted to both wine and vinegar. Sadly, I did not remember this on the same day I cooked with both and left all the windows open.
“But Happy Jessie, you said all the screens were closed!” you cry. Well, let me tell you how it went down: when I circled around the house to close the windows, I saw that the screens on the lower level of the house were covered with fruit flies. Every fruit fly in the state of Illinois must have come to join the THIH party. It looked like something out of the movie Phenomena (which I have never seen and now never will).
Did I finish the dish? Heck, yes! It smelled (and eventually tasted) too good to give up. In fact, I call this recipe:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Keywords: stir-fry saute entree chicken
- 2 chicken breasts or thighs (about 1 lb total)
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup port wine or other red wine of choice
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
Sprinkle dry chicken with salt and pepper. Spoon flour onto a plate. Roll chicken around in the flour until coated.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or until skin is golden brown. Remove to plate.
Add onion and pepper to skillet. Cook and stir for about 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken to skillet. Pour in wine, balsamic vinegar, and thyme. Cover and simmer 30 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
If the sauce is not thick enough, remove chicken to warm plates and boil the sauce uncovered until it is reduced.
Serving suggestion: Try over brown rice, pasta, or quinoa, with a salad on the side.
So, give this recipe a try! Just make sure all your windows are closed (and locked and covered with a fly-proof steel door, if you wish).
What of the fruit flies? Tune in tomorrow for my battle with the fruit fly infestation, including a video in which I talk like Marvin the Martian. Really, who could pass that up?
P.S. You may notice there are now both “Healthy Eats” and “Recipes” tabs in the top menu bar. The Recipes tab contains all the THIH recipes pre-hiatus, while the Healthy Eats tab has all the post-hiatus recipes in the snazzy Recipage format. I may combine the two recipe lists one day, but unless I win the lottery and hire a personal assistant to convert all the recipes to the Recipage format, probably not :)
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Have I ever told you how much I love roasting veggies? How roasting brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables, so that you need nary a accompaniment to these gustatory delights? No? Well, well! Let’s get started!
With the abundance of local fresh veggies at every grocery store and farmer’s market in the Northeast, Peter and I have no excuse not to include them as staples in every meal. Move over, generic beige grain product! We have a new colorful showoff in the kitchen!
Look at this funky purple ‘n’ white bell pepper I found at our local farmers’ market:
Summer Staple Roasted Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich
- Veggies of choice. My favorites are bell peppers, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, and eggplant. You can use other in-season produce, like carrots, taters, summer squash, or even early apples for a extra-sweet twist.
- Spray of oil
- Goat cheese. You can soitenly substitute any type of cheese/”cheez”/what have you (are you tired of the random references yet?).
- Your favorite bread. My favorite happens to by anything made by Peter. Yeah, he’s THAT good. At baking bread.
-Your best balsamic vinegar. If all you have is the cheap, watery stuff, try this simple trick to turn that balsamic water into sweet balsamic syrup.
Slice veggies into sandwich-sided pieces (see next few pictures for guide). Place in single layer on broiling pan. Spray or drizzle oil on the veggies and broil for 20 minutes. Flip veggies, then broil for another 10 minutes. Note: You may need to adjust the broiling time depending on the size of the veggie pieces.
Peter-made crusty loaf (with the part where I pulled off the best crusty bits is conveniently hidden in the back).
Add cheese to sliced bread and pile yer roasted veggies on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and savor!
There’s no excuse for lack of veggie love again!
On a different note, the lovely LeQuan recently asked me a great question that I’d like to share with you all:
Is it worse to not eat breakfast at all, or have a really bad breakfast of let’s say chocolate chip cookies and pop? Yes, I’ve done that and then felt really guilty later. Gary and I had an appointment to get to and it took longer taking care of the kiddies than expected. By the time they were fed (a real breakfast) we had no time to eat. I didn’t want my stomach growling during the appointment so I grabbed some cookies and a pop. So ashamed, but I can’t function w/o food haha. So what’s your honest opinion?
You’ve asked a GREAT question, LeQuan! The short answer is that it’s better to eat cookies and pop rather than no breakfast or first meal of the day at all (you and Gary were smart to get K and L a real meal first – those growing bodies need nutrients! Not to mention, studies show that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school). As long as the cookies are an occasional thing, it’s ok to eat them to give your body some fuel in an emergency. You said yourself that you can’t function without food, and neither can I! ;) Even so, you’re right that cookies are not an ideal solution. Refined carbs like cookies and pop quickly infuse your blood with glucose (more than it wants to handle at once) and that’s bad for your body. Your body will overproduce insulin, causing insulin spikes and increasing risk of insulin resistance. In the short term, you’re more likely to experience an energy crash later on in the day. In the long term, this practice can cause development of diabetes and other diseases. However, it’s good to at least have some fuel in your body, or else your body goes into “starvation mode”. When you do eat a meal or snack later in the day (and maybe not the best meal, because you are so ravenous), you tend to eat more than you would if you had eaten first thing in the day and your body will store more energy than it would have otherwise. So, be kind to your body and feed it at regular intervals :)
Of course, the BEST solution would be to have healthier grab-and-go items on hand for just these situations, like low-sugar granola bars (Kashi makes some good ones), or fruit and a packet of nuts, or one of those single serving yogurts. I ask Peter not to keep cookies and candy bars out where I can see them, because I know I’ll reach for them before the fruit. But, if I keep fruit and other healthy snacks on the counters and in the front of the fridge, I’ll enjoy them much more often!
So, take home message: eat first thing in the day!! Thanks for the great question, LeQuan!
Q: Do you eat breakfast? What’s your favorite energy-packed breakfast?
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