Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Recipe Post: Oven "Fried" Chicken

The other day I realized I needed to have some structure to my blog; ie, certain days where I post certain kinds of things. I think it will help with the mental blocks I always have and prevent the long hiatuses I frequently take. It will probably take me a few weeks to really get the kinks worked out, but start looking for some more regular updates. I saw another blogger who asked themselves the question, "What kind of blog would I want to read?" and I found that tremendously helpful for myself as well.

Anyway, a recipe post will definitely be one of the regular features. I haven't completely decided which day it will be, but I'm going to go ahead and post this as this week's recipe post.

So. Who loves fried chicken? ME, for one. Growing up in the South, it has always been one of my favorite meals. I can make some mean homemade chicken, especially if I talk myself into pulling out my deep fryer. But it's not something I like to indulge in often. There just isn't any kind of oil out there that is healthy enough to fry chicken in since you need such a large quantity, and that goes for anything else deep-fried. Fortunately I have a pretty darn good substitute for my friend chicken cravings: doing it in the oven! It doesn't look quite the same, but it tastes about as close to real fried chicken as you can get. The gravy definitely turns out the exact same though, and what's more it's a little better for you than real fried chicken gravy because you can make it with a little butter and chicken juices instead of using whatever terrible rancid oil you deep-fried the chicken in.

It's unbelievably simple.

First, preheat your oven to 375. Line a roasting pan or dish with foil and add some butter. I used half a stick since you basically want enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan and make the skin crispy. Put the pan in the oven while it preheats.

Meanwhile, grab a plate and dump some flour on it. I never measure the flour, so just eyeball it. Guess how much you'd need to cover the amount of chicken you're making and then add some extra to use in the gravy later (because if you don't make gravy the world will cry...or at least I will)--it's probably around 1/2 a cup. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of paprika, and a generous sprinkle of black pepper.

Toss it together with a fork and get the chicken ready. Your oven should be preheated by now, so take out the pan with the butter. It should be all melted and bubbly like this:

This is the point where you realize just how good this chicken is going to be and your mouth starts watering and your tummy rumbling at the prospect.

Bread your chicken pieces thoroughly with the flour, then place in the pan skin-side down. This is very important! Here's a picture to remind you.

Put the pan in the oven. My chicken took about an hour to cook. This is the 2nd very important step: halfway through the baking time, pull the pan out and flip the chicken over so the skin side is up. Then let it continue baking til no longer pink in the middle.

Look at that beautiful brown, crispy crust! YUM! Then look at that goodness in the bottom of the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate and scrape that stuff into a skillet to make gravy. I didn't bother taking pictures of the gravy-making process because there is an expert out there who has already done it much better than I could. But sometime I am planning to bribe a friend who has a nicer camera than mine to come over and shoot a video of me making it because brown gravy is something that stumps a lot of people. It took me years to get it right.

There was supposed to be a picture of my plate containing the chicken, gravy over brown rice, and my sauteed zucchini, but I was starving and had already dug into it before I realized. So I suggest you just make some yourself and then you won't need to see mine! =)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bulleted Randomness

* I love making pancakes for breakfast now that I found the perfect recipe. I never have blueberries to put in but they're just as perfect without. I don't feel quite as guilty eating them as with other pancakes considering they're so full of protein and fiber!

* You know what's great about Sundays? Law & Order: SVU marathons on the USA channel.

* Waking up with a headache sucks. I had my alarm set to get up for church but felt too crappy so I turned it off and slept a few more hours. I hate missing church though, especially now that we found one I like.

* Yesterday was mine and Andrew's 5th wedding anniversary. Craziness! In some ways it feels like we've been together forever, and in other ways it doesn't feel that long at all. I wish we could celebrate it with a romantic getaway, especially since he'll most likely be gone next year for our 6th, but it's not in the budget this year. Anyway, I was having fun looking through our wedding pictures yesterday. I love this one--inside joke captured on camera:

* I'm rereading this trilogy on my Kindle and enjoying it just as much as the first time.

* Yesterday I had lunch with some friends at L & J's Cafe, and officially decided that it is the best Mexican food in El Paso. It was my second time there, but while the meal I had the first time was good, yesterday's meal clinched the deal. And here are my friends and I after lunch (I'm the one in the bright teal capris):

* On Friday I got caught in a flash flood. Apparently those happen often here in the summer. It was not fun, to say the least.

* I miss my gym classes. Between holidays and various other occurrences, I haven't been to any in a week and a half. I am capable of kicking my own butt at the gym, but it's boring. Excited to be back at yoga tomorrow!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Being Alone

I just saw this quote pinned by someone on Pinterest and liked it:

“I think it’s very healthy to 
spend time alone. 
You need to know 
how to be alone 
and not be defined by another person.”

Unfortunately it's being attributed to Oscar Wilde all over the internet and, peeps, Oscar Wilde didn't say this. Actress Olivia Wilde said this, in an interview after experiencing a break-up. I know it's irritating not being able to trust everything you see on the internet, but you know what, you just can't trust everything you see on the internet. That's another subject though. *

Even though Olivia Wilde said it and not Oscar, she has learned a bit of wisdom that more of us need to realize. 

Humans were designed to be social beings, and to need people. But this need can sometimes control us in unhealthy ways. It isn't good when this need leads you to continue hanging out with friends who are a bad influence on you. When you're afraid to stand up to someone who's walking all over you. When you go from one romantic partner to the next with a sort of desperation. When you can't be content being single. When you can't bear to spend one evening or weekend away from your spouse or significant other. When you feel like you can't be happy or fulfilled without someone in your life. 

I think this is one reason I'm thankful for military life. It teaches me this lesson in a very stark way that not many people get to experience. I love my husband more than anything in the world, but I've learned that I can spend an evening, a week, a month, a year without him and not fall apart, even though I miss him like crazy. I've learned to live without family close. I've learned not to cling too tightly to friends. 

Practice being alone and okay with it!

*I'm thinking of starting a regular feature on my blog called "The Worst of Pinterest." What do you think ?