Roast Chicken 

 
Some (especially Ina Garten’s husband Jeffrey) would argue that there is nothing more comforting than a roast chicken with vegetables. After smelling my house while this was in the oven, I’d have to agree with them. Sure, you can buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store but it’s just not the same, and not nearly as delicious.

So I implore you to try this simple recipe and you won’t be sorry. Feel free to make it your own, increase the quantity of ingredients to feed a larger crowd or add different veggies, slices, herbs, etc. Let’s get started!  

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes (about 15)
  • 1 pound medium carrots (about 6)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 3 ½- to 4-pound chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Place the butter on a plate and set it aside to soften. 
  • Heat oven to 425° F (I used the convection setting and it worked beautifully) and begin preparing the vegetables. Scrub the potatoes. Peel the carrots, halve them lengthwise, and cut them crosswise into 2-inch pieces.
  • Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan or baking dish and toss with the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Remove the neck and the bag of giblets from inside the cavity of the chicken and discard them. (Thankfully, my chicken didn’t come with any of these but just in case…)
  • Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
  •  Prick the lemon several times with a sharp knife and place it in the chicken along with the thyme.
  •  Rub the outside of the chicken with the softened butter and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Tie the legs together with kitchen twine or a handy reusable silicone kitchen tie like I have, found here. Place on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. It should look like this!Like my roasting pan? It’s Rachel Ray stoneware, get your own here!
  • Put the chicken in the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender, the chicken is golden brown, and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork, 65 to 75 minutes. (If you use an instant-read thermometer, it should register 165° F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.) 
  • Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.  
  • Serve & enjoy!  

sissy 

Someone recently, upon seeing my sister and I together, commented that we look nothing alike. It reminded me of this post I wrote last year about my sissy, so I thought I’d repost it for those of you who didn’t read it then.

  

Ever see a picture of yourself and at first you’re absolutely convinced that it’s someone else in your family? I was going through some photos from our trip to Pennsylvania this past winter and I came across this shot of me in my pj’s sipping coffee and eating delicious pumpkin pancakes at one of my BFF’s house. But before I remembered all that, I just stared at it thinking, “Where did this picture of my sister come from?!” It looks exactly like her. Maybe it’s because my hair is straight in the photo and she often wears hers that way, perhaps it’s the coke bottle glasses due to our inherited awful eyesight, or it could be the raised eyebrows, a signature move of her’s. But nonetheless, for a second I would’ve bet money it was my big sis. 

Not that this would be a bad thing. She’s pretty easy on the eyes; with a much better hairline than mine, high cheekbones, and a waistline that never changes. But that’s just the outside stuff. Due to a bit of a tough exterior, the insides are harder to get to but it’s pretty worthwhile when you do. She is sweet and kind yet inherently cynical, she always makes you laugh, and she takes a little gasp of air every time she begins to speak or especially sing. That last one wasn’t really a personality trait but it’s cute. When we were little she taught me how to tie my shoes and I, in turn, always went up to the counter at Wendy’s to ask for extra bbq sauce for her chicken nuggets because she was too shy. She never wanted me to hug her when she cried and she could hang with the boys like the best of them. She has a nervous little laugh and an affinity for gardening. 

We don’t get to see each other often and we’re not very good about staying in touch (which I wish were different), but we’re always able to pick up where we left off. I’ll never forget when she got too old to take baths with her baby sister or when we slept in her bedroom for the very last time the night before her wedding. She’s generous with her love and has opened her home to many a wayward child. I think she’s still mad at me for moving to Florida even though it’s been almost 10 years, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I’m pretty sure she’s still holding a grudge about me drawing a bikini (and also chicken pox?) in blue ink on her favorite baby doll, Baby Lou, when I was six! She has dimples in her cheeks when she smiles and a walk that makes you want to shout things behind her like, “You got a porch for that swing?” or, “You want fries with that shake?” She is a talented seamstress and makes one mean latte. Despite being very different in many ways, we share a love of shopping at Target, sarcasm, Gilmore Girls, and dark haired Italian men with a “J” name. She despises onions and used to, when eating dinner together as a family years ago, put her fork down in disappointment upon finding a piece of onion, look at my mother and say, “Do you hate me?” I still chuckle thinking about it. We don’t say it often enough so I’ll let Jo March from Little Women say it for me, “I could never love anyone as I love my sister.” 

   

Emerson and Thoreau

 
Ever have a conversation with a close friend or family member and even though you asked them about their life, their job, what was new, a recent vacation or exciting experience, how their family was, maybe how they’re doing despite a difficult circumstance, etc etc etc, you didn’t get asked that in return? 

I feel I’ve experienced this a lot lately, especially if I’m going through a hard or stressful time, it’s almost like it’s just easier for people to avoid the obvious and talk about something trivial than to really look into your eyes and just say, “How are you?” Do they hear you asking questions and realize they aren’t doing the same? Are they oblivious to it or do they maybe simply not want to? Friendship should be an interchange. 

I understand for myself, I’m a talker, so maybe it comes more naturally to me to ask questions and want to know details about people’s childhoods, their likes and dislikes, etc. Maybe others think it’s nosy? But if you are close with someone, what’s wrong with trying to get closer, digging in deep? Is there a disconnect there as humans because we are naturally selfish creatures? Do we just forget? Or maybe the people that love me don’t love me enough to really care to ask, or find out the answer? Perhaps because the answer might be long, or sad, uninteresting in their opinion, make them uncomfortable, or maybe just an answer that they don’t particularly want to hear. 

Or perhaps because you have a smile on your face and are gregarious they just assume everything is ok? Do seemingly strong people deserve to be penalized because they don’t necessarily wear their emotions on their sleeve or aren’t as fragile in nature as others might outwardly be? I have especially found this to be true after suffering from miscarriages, people feel that you “seem fine” so why talk about it, or they feel uncomfortable, don’t want to pry, or maybe even say, “I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or remind you of it.” When you go through something traumatic, unfortunately you don’t forget it, so nothing someone says is going to make you think, “Oh, I forgot that happened, thanks a lot for reminding me.” And I would rather someone say the “wrong thing” with good intentions than not say anything at all, then you just feel ignored.

And then you’ll find those few people who send you a thank you card when you’ve done something thoughtful, or balloons and chocolate covered strawberries, (you know who you are) just because they know you had a crappy day, or they text, call, or simply hug you at just the right time and ask, “Are you ok?” Does that mean they love you more than those who don’t ask? Or that they’re just a better friend? Or more compassionate? I don’t know the answer. 

But what I do know is that you cannot control other people’s actions. But you can control your own. I recently watched a Whiteboard Animation video designed for children on making true friends. But no matter its target demographic, it made some very valid points. Think about yourself as you read the following and think, “Do I do this?” 

  • Look for a friend that makes you a better person. Now ask yourself, “Are my friends better people for having been around me?”
  • Listening is one of the best gifts you can give a person. Do you ask questions and then really listen? This means quietly allowing them to talk, without interruption, not even to offer what you may feel to be a helpful or obvious solution. More often than not, when we talk to someone about our problems, we already know what the solution is. That’s not why we’re talking in the first place, we’re talking because we need to vent to a kind listening ear, so shut up and listen!
  • Look for friends who are truly loyal and trustworthy. Am I?
  • Dont hold a grudge. Let it gooooo…❄️That’s a hard one, but definitely worth working at. 
  • Be there for them when they need you most, even if they don’t ask. Sometimes we can’t ask, “What can I do?” or, “Let me know if you need something” because we’ll be turned down. Don’t ask, just do. 
  • Truly take a sincere personal interest in others. Do I do that? What would my friends say?

It’s true, love covers a multitude of sins, and we are all certainly riddled with sin. But should we just be complacent with that fact, resigned to staying how we are, just because we’re imperfect?  Ralph Waldo Emerson (a great example of a good friend, as he not only befriended and mentored Henry David Thoreau, but gave him the land at Walden Pond upon which he built his humble cabin and was thus inspired to write some of his very best work) said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one“. With that in mind, I’m determined to try and be the best friend I can be, I hope you do the same! 

nothing vegan about it…

  
Eating healthy is good. Eating a plant based diet of fruits, vegetables, and legumes is even better. And then, there’s chicken pot pie. There’s nothing vegan about it, but it sure is delicious. And that’s ok. With me at least, but, whatever floats your boat. All things in moderation right?

For me, food is love. I’ve found, as I grow older and expand my culinary prowess, I have an inexplicable urge to feed people. It brings me joy and comfort to see someone else enjoy something that I worked hard to create, to hear an irrepressible “mmm” escape from their lips, and to know that they feel loved by me because I have fed them. At least that’s the experience I hope for. Especially when it’s something warm and deliciously comforting. Sometimes people are just hungry, and that’s ok too. I guess…

This humble pot pie full of simple ingredients and lots of calories is the epitome of comfort food, in my opinion. And sometimes when somebody you love is hurting, there’s nothing to can do but feed them, because food is love.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Chicken Pot Pie 

 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 chicken cutlets dice
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 red potatoes diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Dash of minced garlic
  • 1 box store bought pie crust
  • Salt, pepper, & pinch of sage

Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken with s&p. Sauté garlic & chicken in olive oil until no longer pink. Add vegetables and sauté for a minute or two. Add cream of chicken and sage then let simmer for ten minutes. Prepare pie plate by lining with one roll of crust. Spoon mixture into dish and cover with remaining roll of dough making sure it’s securely attached to the bottom crust and sealed. Pinch pastry along the sides to firmly seal and crimp with a fork if you’re fancy. Pour a few tablespoons of milk into a cup and brush top of pie and all along crust with milk, this will give you a lovely honey colored crust! Bake until golden brown & enjoy!!!

Can’t say I never won anything…

Hey remember that time I was nominated for……(drumroll…don’t you wish you had a permanent drummer following you around in life solely for drumroll purposes?! Maybe I’ll just buy the sound effect on iTunes, that’s probably a little more cost effective…) an AWARD?! I was nominated by the lovely Styletterie for a Liebster Award! (follow and read her blog, she’s wonderfully witty and says all sorts of funny British words that make me giggle)

I was looking through some old blog posts and came upon this one, which was actually one of my most favorites. Even though I wrote it 19 months ago, I truly believe I would still answer the questions in the exact same way so I guess that’s good, like I’m officially comfortable in my own skin? So in case you didn’t read it then, you can now! Here goes…

This award recognizes new bloggers with less than 200 followers that are super duper cool (I added that last part) and gets the word out there to read their blog! I am truly honored and feel like Travis Birkenstock from Clueless right now so… “I’d first like to thank my parents, for never giving me a ride to school, the LA city bus driver for taking a chance on an unknown kid”…..you get the point. But seriously this is pretty cool, (cue daydreams of getting so many followers that I get offered a book deal, then a movie deal, and subsequently become the next Nancy Meyers, my screenplay heroine…and have a house like Diane Keaton’s in “Something’s gotta give”) so here goes nothin’…

 Rules

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award.

2. Answer eleven questions the blogger gives you.

3. Give eleven random facts about yourself

Here are the questions I was assigned and my answers to them.

-What is the meaning of life? (Ok, that one’s optional) she said it was optional, I’m not touching that one for fear of sparking unwanted debates.

– What was your best ever holiday and why? Ok my nominator (is that a word, sounds kind of like the terminator?…) is from London so I’m guessing by holiday she means vacation and the answer to that is a bit cliche and I have a feeling you aren’t going to love. It’s not really a specific place for one, because I haven’t been anywhere especially spectacular as of yet, and secondly because (and this is the honest truth) anywhere I’ve gone with my husband is always my favorite holiday. We have so much fun together and enjoy ourselves immensely wether we’re touring New York City, swimming in the ocean, or waiting in endless lines at Disney World, it’s always the best time. So there, that’s my answer and it’s my blog so hmph.

– Who is your style icon? Ooh this is hard! I don’t know that I necessarily have one person to whose style I look, I mean I’ve always had a vintage flair and love Audrey Hepburn, Jackie-O, and such. If I could live in the movie “Funny Face” I would. Also I’d have to say my mother. For as long as I can remember the woman has never left the house without lipstick, NEVER has chipped nails, always smells lovely, and is perfectly coordinated from head to toe no matter what the occasion. She also taught me that no matter what your size you can look good. And that you can never have too much jewelry…which is why I steal hers on a regular basis. 

   

 
What do you want to be when you grow up? A mommy.

– How did you choose the name for your blog? I love a play on words and wanted something “kitschy”. My husband is a real live butcher and so it just kind of came to me. Sorry it’s not a better story!

– Favourite TV show and ultimate TV crush? I think as a kid I was utterly in love with Zach Morris (I shouldn’t have to tell you what show he was on) and Wesley Crusher from the one and only Star Trek Next Generation. Nowadays I can’t get enough of the new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, I love a man who can make me laugh. That’s why I married my husband!  

 

– What song do you listen to when you need cheering up? Anything by Jewel. Baha just kidding. Honestly? Disney songs. Seriously. There’s something about belting out “look at this stuff, isn’t it neat, wouldn’t ya think my collections complete?” that instantly puts a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Or something cheesy like that.
– What are you most proud of ? My husband. I’m proud of the wonderful man he has become despite adversity and the happy, comfortable, loving home we have made together. I’m also proud of my mad hostess skills.

– Place you’d most like to visit? Really anywhere in Europe is fine with me. But not like touristy Europe, I want to find a little village in Italy, Spain, or Greece, rent a villa for a month and do as the locals do; eat good food, take naps, soak in the culture, just live.

– Do you speak any other languages? Eh, yes and no. I took Spanish for five years and used to be pretty darn fluent. But alas, my profé would be triste (see I still retained a little) to hear that I’ve lost most of it. I can decipher when guys are talking about me in Walmart or communicate with the little old guacamole lady at the farmers market so I get by if I need to, but I’m pretty rusty.

– What’s the best fancy dress costume you’ve ever done? When I was 8 I was a flower girl in a wedding and a woman my mother was friends with handmade dresses for my sister and I. I felt so fancy getting measured and going for fittings and I’ll never forget the day I saw the final product and got to put it on. This thing had TWELVE layers of fluffy organza in the skirt AND the sleeves, was an explosion of pink, and even had matching fluffy bows on the shoes. 

 That’s me in the bottom left, notice my super awesome lace gloves and socks too?! So I know maybe the answer should have been my wedding dress but…it was this, sorry.

– Coke or Pepsi? (Just kidding! No one likes Pepsi.) Ha! My husband I have this debate often because I agree with the question that really, there is no question. Coke is just better. But the butcher likes Pepsi, what are ya gonna do?

– Favourite Disney movie and heroine? Well first can I just say I love the way Brits spell words like favorite (favourite) and color (colour)? Ok that being said my favorite Disney movie is…Beauty and the Beast. No Little Mermaid. No, Tangled. WHY MUST YOU TORTURE ME SO?! If we’re going off of what movie I watched, sang, and imitated the most (mainly her splashing up on the rocks all dramatically with the water behind her…sorry mom that’s why there was always so much water on the floor when I got out of the tub!) it’d have to be Ariel and the Little Mermaid. But I am NOT happy that I had to choose. 

 

Ok now 11 random facts about myself…

1. I can’t yoyo to save my life. Seriously if you had a gun to my head and said “yoyo or die” I’d be dead.

2. I’m very funny…in my head.

3. My knees bend backwards like an alien, and I’ll probably get arthritis on them because of it.

4. I LOVE glitter. That is all.

5. I’m claustrophobic which is ironic since I shut my sister in the trunk (we were playing hide and seek I thought it’d be funny) when we were little.

6. My middle name is Nanette. It’s Hebrew and means grace.

7. Although it may not be a possibility, I want to be a mother more than anything, but I’m extremely grateful for my beautiful nieces and love them like my own.

8. I HATE beets. Like literally vomit inducing hate, especially when they’re all boiled and slimy.

9. My cheeks get tingly and break out into a cold sweat when I eat peanut butter. But…I keep eating it, what’s wrong with a cold tingly cheek every now and again?

10. I have a scar inside my top lip from running into the corner of a dresser at the daycare I used to go to. I HATED that place with a passion and am still scarred (both physically and emotionally to this day).

11. I married my best friend. It’s pretty cool, you should try it.

That’s it, we’re done? Well that was fun and hopefully gave you some insight into my brain? 

A little love for the F to the L 

 Did you know that Florida was the 27th state? It’s ok, I didn’t either. It was admitted to the United States as a State on March 3, 1845. It’s now 170 years old, 58 years younger than the very first state, Deleware. The capital is Tallahassee and its nickname, as I’m sure you know, is the Sunshine State! Florida’s state flower is the orange blossom which also produces delicious orange blossom honey! 

There’s a ton of water in Florida, with 7,700 lakes greater than 10 acres, 33 natural springs (which is greater than any other state btw), and approximately 4,500 islands greater than 10 acres, with 663 miles of beach! 

There are a ton of other facts I could give you, like how many senate districts there are, or the number of counties, bla bla bla. But this is my blog so instead I’m going to give you some facts/reasons that I love Florida….

Whether you are enjoying the crystal clear water and relaxing atmosphere of the Florida Keys, catching a ball game or off sailing in St. Petersburg, taking an airboat ride through the marshy Everglades (home of the American Crocodile), taking a romantic getaway at a B&B in the charming Shrimping Village of Amelia Island, floating down the “Venice of America” as they call Fort Lauderdale, due to its expansive and intricate canal system, visiting Kennedy Space Center and Mickey Mouse at Cinderella’s Castle in Orlando, laying on the world renowned white sand beaches of Siesta Key, watching cars speed around the track at the Daytona International Speedway, visiting the first ever Naval Air Station in Pensicola, touring historical landmarks in brick street lined St. Augustine, enjoying amazing restaurants and culture at the Walter Tiffany museum in Winter Park, going “shelling” on the beautiful crustacean laden beaches of Sanibel Island, eating delicious Greek food and buying natural sponges galore in Tarpon Springs, admiring the Art Deco architecture and mini Havana that is Miami Beach, taking a boat to the beautiful reef islands that make up Dry Tortugas National Park, home of Fort Jefferson, taking in the wonderfully weird world-famous underwater mermaid show in the city of Weeki Wachee, or playing a round of golf at one of the best courses in the country right here in the Villages, there is so much to do (and much more I didn’t mention) in this lovely state that you never have to leave! 

I love that there is still so much for us to explore here, I love wearing flip flops in February and that most people here don’t even know what an “ice scraper” is. I love that the sun is literally ALWAYS shining and everybody has central air. I love that there are cows and palm trees on the same block and that I don’t have to get my car inspected. I love not having to look for deer on the road at night. I love having a place for my friends and family to escape to when it’s cold, I love being so close to Disney, and the beach, and most of all, I love that in my tenth year of living here, I finally feel I can call Florida my home. 

have no fear, freckles.

First of all, I know, I know, I said I wasn’t blogging this week while I’m on vacation but it’s just so beautiful and calming here that I’m feeling inspired. Plus, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. So here goes…
 
This is my niece Mahal. Isn’t she beautiful? Look at all her adorable freckles. Yesterday I looked at her sun kissed nose and exclaimed, “Hey! You got two new freckles!”  

“I did? How can you tell?!”, she asked. It tickles me beyond belief, because of what she’s been through in her short life and the speed in which she has had to mature, that she still has enough innocence to think I am actually able to keep an accurate record of her freckles.

“Because I count them”, I said. “That’s just how much I love you.”

As she contemplated this I continued, “You know, the bible says that God has every single star numbered and named? Jesus said that even the hairs of our head are numbered by our Heavenly Father, so there’s nothing to fear because he knows our needs, struggles, and worries. That means there is not one single detail about us that He doesn’t care about, understand, and love. Think about how much I love you and multiply it by a million and then some, that’s how much He loves you.” 

When I was little, my dad took every possible opportunity to teach us something. Even if we weren’t in a “learning mood” he did it anyway, knowing that we’d thank him someday. So here it is, thanks dad. Thanks for forcing us to learn, talking to us like adults, and never underestimating our intelligence or capacity for gaining knowledge. And thanks for, as much as I despised you at the time, forcing us to get the giant dictionary off the shelf every time we encountered a word we didn’t know. 

I hope that every time Mahal looks at her freckles in the mirror she thinks of me and that someday, when she looks back on her forced learning experiences, she feels about me the way I feel about my dad.