the basics: baked chicken

So, next on my list of The Basics is baked chicken. I was pretty excited when I saw this chicken with a 5 on Whole Food's 5-Step Animal Rating system from White Oak Pastures. We mostly get our meat from MOM's and the Fell's Point Farmer's Market, but if there were some more humane options at Whole Foods, that would be really convenient.

I made the chicken by puting a pad or two of butter under the skin, then rubbing another pad over the entire outside. I stuffed it with a quartered onion and a handful of rosemary (from our garden!), then baked it at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. It turned out really well. The great thing about chicken is everyone in the family eats it. Even the picky ones.

I'm always curious about family recipes and techniques. Do you have any special way of baking a chicken? How about your mother and grandmother?

berry muffins make me happy

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A little over a week ago I got my very own copy of The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule (Thanks, Mom!). I just love her blog, Soulemama. I love reading about her crafting, cooking, natural parenting, and homeschooling adventures, but there's more to it...

It's easy to take a sarcastic tone about parenting or marriage (it can be so frustrating!), and it's easy to complain about cleaning and cooking (it is, after all, so hard and time consuming!), but I've found that I'd rather not take that tone about family life. Because really, I've never been so happy and I've never found anything else in life so rewarding. In becoming a wife and a mother, not only did I gain a bunch of really awesome people in my life, but I found a better, happier, version of myself. I guess Amanda Blake Soule's blog and books capture that spirit for me. She (and many others) have given us permission to focus on the good and revel in the simple.

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Sometimes it's hard to admit to being happy, especially for this art kid who made it through a lot of years on sarcasm and a bad attitude. But, you know what, world? I'm happy. Really fucking happy. And my kids? They're perfect. And my husband? Hot. There. I said it. ;)

Anyway, onto the Berry Muffins made from a recipe in The Rhythm of Family!

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They were so good! They made me happy. They made Fiona happy, too.

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in our kitchen

Bread... There are few things in life that give a calming sense of purpose like kneading bread, pregnant and sweating, in a hot kitchen with Fiona by my side. There is something so beautiful in that strong, repetitive motion. Perhaps it's muscle memory passed down from generations of women before me. Whatever it is, it's good. And the bread itself? It's good too.

Pesto... We have a ton of basil in our garden, so we've been eating a lot of pesto.

The problem with pesto is that it has pine nuts, which are delicious, but expensive. So, my clever husband substituted walnuts. It tastes awesome and is a bit more budget-friendly.

Egg Salad... on homemade bread with garden-grown lettuce!

Rosemary- and Garlic-Roasted Potatoes... made with rosemary from our garden using a recipe in Feeding the Whole Family.

And for dessert, Peanut Butter Cookies...

...and Green Tea and Lemonade Popsicles, a great alternative to super sugary store-bought ones.

I'm hoping to continue this run of trying new recipes and making more of our lunches and snacks homemade. Sheldon especially hopes I stick with this bread-making thing. I think I found (another) key to his heart. The man loves bread, even (especially) misshapen, homemade bread.

garden update

Remember when we first planted our garden and it looked like this? Well, it has grown quite a bit! Even better, it is growing things we can eat! Can you believe it?!

Peppers, several kinds of lettuce and tomatoes... I think we should have some strawberries too by now, but I have a sneaking suspicion they are being feasted on by some little creatures sharing our back patio.

 

Watching our little garden grow has been so great for all of us. It's a nice reprieve from this urban life we love, which sometimes leaves us in need of a little nature fix. The kids help with the watering, tending and picking, of course. Fiona insists we cut up each tomato we pick into four so we can each have a "little treat." We may not be growing much, but this little garden is teaching our children and reminding us that food comes from the earth, not from the store.

homemade holidays: lemon sandwiches with strawberries and cream

I made that! Doesn't it look good?! It was!

This Christmas, my mom and I had a long talk and decided that despite many of our strong feelings on what is ethically and health-wise the right way to eat, we were going to try our very hardest to have close to what would be considered a traditional Christmas dinner. It was a huge success. Everyone was thrilled to see ham, macaroni and cheese and yummy desserts make it back on the dinner table, even for only a day.

Since I had a whole lot to say on the topic (ahem, I guess I'm a little opinionated?), I thought I should probably contribute more than I have in the past. I found this dessert in one of our favorite cookbooks, Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. I followed the directions exactly, except substituted strawberries for raspberries since my little girl is such a strawberry fan.

It was just lovely! I'd love to hear what kinds of foods are traditional at your Christmas table. Share in the comments if you have a minute!

homemade holidays: dark chocolate bark

Okay, so I'm sure this is impressive only to me, (and to my husband who has accepted my ineptitude in the kitchen for what it is... laziness. Hah!) but I made dark chocolate bark to give to friends and family this Christmas. And it tasted GOOD! Really good, in fact!

It's made with dark chocolate, almonds, cashews and dried, unsweetened cranberries (Sheldon's idea), and that is crushed up cashew sprinkled on top (my idea!). Yum!

I guess you really can't go wrong with dark chocolate paired with nuts.

I wrapped each square individually with wax paper then wrapped those with paper that Fiona had drawn on with red crayon. The package turned out quite cute, I think!

One of my new years resolutions is to take more responsibility for feeding my family. Because really, it's one thing to be a college kid eating canned corn for every meal (just ask my roommates), it's another thing to be a wife and mother. I actually contributed a dessert to Christmas dinner this year and I'll post about that later in the week! Miranda Makes Bakes!

vintage pyrex is pretty (and useful!)

The above Pyrex bowl doesn't quite count as 'vintage' IMHO. See, it was made in the 80's, and I was alive in the 80's, which means this can't possibly be vintage.

I originally started buying Pyrex because I wanted to try to minimize the amount of plastic we use in the kitchen. Containers with lids are a great (and much prettier!) substitute for tupperware.

I don't really make casseroles, but this shape is nice for holding muffins too, no?

And here's a picture of the blue bowl with purple grapes since my Mom requested it in the comments of my last Pyrex post...

We probably get the most use out of our big Pyrex mixing bowls. Fiona is quite the professional when it comes to mixing!