Skillet Moroccan Chicken

It’s time again for Tasty Tuesday.  Sometimes on Tuesdays I share a recipe, a cooking tip, or some combination of both. :-) You can always find all the Tasty Tuesday posts by clicking on the words “Tasty Tuesday” in the menu bar above or in the list of categories on the right.

Skillet Moroccan Chicken is one of my favorite chicken recipes.  It’s easy, quick and flavorful, with a slightly sweet taste that is a bit unusual.  I call it Skillet Moroccan Chicken to differentiate it from Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken, which is a whole different thing.  But just as good!

I made this for some friends last week and they requested the recipe.  So here it is:

Skillet Moroccan Chicken

printable version of Skillet Moroccan Chicken

¼ cup white wine
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
¹/3 cup chopped prunes
¹/3 cup apricot jelly or jam
olive oil for sauteing
1 red pepper, cut into bite size pieces
8 oz (half a bag) of baby carrots, cut in half the long way
1½ lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
salt to taste

  1. Combine wine, soy sauce, curry powder, cinnamon, prunes, and jelly in a small bowl.  Let this sauce sit for a few minutes to combine flavors.
  2. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the pepper, carrots, and chicken, and sprinkle  salt over the skillet.  Cook and stir regularly until the chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sauce (from step 1) and cook it for about 2 more minutes so the sauce is heated through and thickens a bit.
  4. Serve!  I usually make Israeli couscous to go with this, but I think Moroccan couscous or rice would work as well.

Enjoy!  What’s your favorite way to make chicken?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Tasty Tuesday: Turkey & Black Bean Chili

It’s time again for Tasty Tuesday. On Tuesdays I typically share a recipe, a cooking tip, or some combination of both. :-) You can always find all the Tasty Tuesday posts by clicking on the words “Tasty Tuesday” in the menu bar above or in the list of categories on the right.

Astute readers will notice that today is not Tuesday.  Well, what can I say?  It’s not Tuesday but I’m still sharing a recipe.  Last night I mentioned on Facebook that I made chili for dinner, and I was besieged by a barrage of (drat –I’m looking for a word that starts with “b” but I’m not finding it) requests for the recipe.

It all came about because two nights ago I made a new recipe from of the America’s Test Kitchen‘s cookbooks.  I am a huge huge fan of America’s Test Kitchen, and I have always had great luck with their recipes.  Until now.

The Vietnamese-style Carmel Chicken with Broccolini was basically inedible.  Blech.

But I’m sure it was my own fault.  Probably did something wrong, or the fish sauce was too old, or who knows what?

So last night I made a tried-and-true recipe to be certain I wouldn’t have two bombs in a row.  I have no idea where this recipe came from, no photos of it, nothing.  But I do promise you, it is easy, yummy, quick, and almost all of the ingredients sit in the pantry until you are ready to make it.  Definitely my kind of recipe!  So here you have it:

Barb’s Turkey & Black Bean Chili

Printable version of Barb’s Turkey Black Bean Chili

1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 – 1½ lbs. ground turkey
salt to taste
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with chilies
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (15 oz) corn kernels, drained (or about 1 cup if you prefer to use frozen corn)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until just smoking.  Cook the onions until they are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir, and cook for about 2 more minutes.  (While this is cooking, I usually “salt the turkey” which just means that I sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on the raw turkey.  You can use table salt, sea salt, or no salt, if you like.  It’s just a matter of what you like to use.)

Add the turkey and chili powder to the meat, and brown the turkey until it is mostly cooked through (a bit more than 5 minutes, for me), stirring regularly to heat all sides of the meat.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, and black beans, and bring it to a simmer.  Simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (I like to simmer longer, if time allows, as the flavors cook together and the meat becomes even more tender.)

And that’s it!  How easy is that?  My husband likes to mix the chili with rice, and some of my friends put grated cheese on it.  If I have guests I’ll serve it with salad and crusty bread, but if it’s just us we often just have chili for dinner and maybe fruit for dessert.

One more thing: this recipe freezes beautifully.  I usually spoon it into the muffin tin and freeze overnight.  Once the chili is frozen, I pop it out of the tin and put the muffin-size chunks into a freezer bag.  That way it’s easy to pull out  just as much as I need.


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Do your kids read?

The Monster at the End of this Book

I read this book a million times to my younger brother. He never tired of the silliness and always laughed at the ending.

I learned to read at a very young age. I taught myself to read, by first memorizing the books that my mother read to me, then learning to read the print that went along with the words, and then making the leap to other words in other books. I don’t recall any of this, of course, but that’s how my mother tells it. (Hi mom!) In my memory, I’ve been reading my whole life.

I can’t stop myself from reading. As a kid, I used to read the back of cereal boxes and milk cartons if that’s all that was available. My parents used to joke that I should “put down that book and watch some TV, like a normal kid!” Reading seems like part of my DNA.

But not so for my kids.

Somehow I’ve managed to raise two kids who are not all that interested in reading. I have no idea how that happened. Though it is tempting, I can’t in good conscience blame their father. His taste in books is different from mine, but he reads quite a bit and always has several books in his pile.

When I’ve looked for advice about “fostering a reading environment” (that’s the official term for it), the suggestions seem simple enough:

  1. Model the behavior. Let your kids see you reading, regularly, all different types of things.
  2. Read to your child. Set this routine at a young age, so the kids expect reading as part of their day.
  3. Remove distractions. Don’t allow your children to spend too much time in front of the screen (TV, handheld, computer, etc.). Make sure they have time in their day for reading.

But here’s the thing: if it was that easy, my kids would both be great readers. They see all the adults in their lives read, we read to them when they were little (and we still read out loud sometimes as a family activity), and both kids have plenty of time for reading.

Finally, I simply made a rule — 30 minutes of reading every day. Each child has to find a way to fit it in, and if they miss a day, they have to make it up the next day. Since I noticed that one child tended to discard books without giving them much of a chance, I also made a rule that they have to read at least 5 chapters of a book before they can decide they don’t want to read the rest.

I know it’s radical, and many people have told me that I run the risk of turning reading into something they have to rather than something they might want to do.

But I couldn’t come up with a better solution. The kids have to read. Reading takes practice. Part of the reason my kids didn’t like to read is because they did not find reading easy. And since they didn’t read much, they weren’t getting better at it. I had to find a way to stop this vicious cycle.

So far, it’s been a qualified success. Monkey (as my daughter is known around here) will rarely choose to read, but once she starts on her required 30 minutes she sometimes reads for longer. My son, Pumpkin, is a tougher cookie, and with a few exceptions only reads the required amount. He has found a few books such as The Hunger Games, which engaged him in such a way that he desperately wanted to know what happened next, and kept him reading much longer than usual. However, although he read the first two books in that series, he lost interest and never read the third one.

But at least they are reading. And their reading skills are improving. For right now, that’s plenty good enough for me.

What about you? Do your kids read? What are your strategies for encouraging reading? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Definition of Adulthood

Rabbi Moshe New in Montreal, defines being grown up as: “the ability to fully integrate that which we know, practically.” He then goes on to reference the Kabbalah, which has a Hebrew word for this: da’at. Da’at is usually translated as “to know,” but according to Rabbi New, it also means “to connect.”

So if I understand this statement, Rabbi New says that adulthood is a way of turning what we know into a practical application, and therefore knowledge creates behavior.  And this connection between knowing and doing is what makes an adult.

It’s interesting, no?

On the one hand, I do agree. The process of integrating knowledge, belief, and action is definitely an important adult trait. But I think there’s so much more to adulthood.

Childhood is a time when nearly everything is done for you, and nearly everything is given to you. Adulthood is a time when almost nothing is done for you, and almost nothing is given to you. And the growing up part? That’s what comes in between.

As a parent, I’m finding it difficult to find that balance. I love my kids and a big part of me wants to make their lives easier. But on the other hand, I don’t want to give my kids everything — the benefit of every doubt, the easy way out, solving all their problems for them. They need to make that transition between childhood and adulthood, not all at once, but slowly, in steps.

So, when my 14-year-old doesn’t start his English paper until 9:30 pm and struggles with understanding Shakespeare — do I help him? Or do I let him struggle and perhaps fail, but maybe learn an important lesson? When my 11-year-old prefers to do things entirely “by myself, mom!” do I remind her for the 400th time to bring her soccer gear to school since she’ll be going directly to practice, or I do I let her forget a few times in hopes of learning that lesson?

I remember those same questions when they were smaller, but the topics were different. When my daughter was a newborn, I didn’t expect her to sleep through the night. By the time she was 18 months, I surely did. But where, in between, would I set limits in order to encourage sleep? It was a difficult balance. Where to draw the line?

Parenting, to me, is helping my kids become adults. And adulthood is about independence, making your own choices, and understanding that no one owes you much. But helping my kids get there? That’s not something I find easy to do.

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What’s your biggest kitchen disaster?


Cake disaster at King Arthur Test Kitchen

We’ve been talking about kitchen mishaps, mostly of the messy variety, around here lately. At Casa 1Sentence, we started telling a few more cooking stories, of different types of kitchen mishaps.

Um, more like the type where the food comes out … awful.

I promised Monkey (as my daughter is known around here) that I wouldn’t tell you about her recent baking mishap. Instead, I’ll just say that it is important to measure the ingredients very carefully when you are baking.

Not to worry, though. I have plenty of my own stories to share.

Once, when I was in grade school, I made chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. I was quite proud that I had made them all by myself.  We didn’t have a lot of peanut butter chips, so I cut the recipe in half. My inexperienced eye read the amount of salt required as half a cup, which I carefully halved to one quarter of a cup. Of salt.

You can imagine what the cookies tasted like!

I didn’t know what had happened, so I left them out on the counter thinking that when my mom got home she would help me figure it out.

My poor mother came home late, and saw these delicious-looking cookies on the counter. She took a big bite of one, and then got that terrible aftertaste. Of course, she was also rather thirsty! She finally realized the problem, and threw out all my hard work.

Apparently, I have a problem with salt.

When you bake bread, salt is a critical ingredient. Salt inhibits rising, so it is carefully balanced with the yeast to make the dough rise the right amount. It works perfectly, unless you forget to add salt to the dough! Which I did, just last year.

Oh no, I can’t blame this one on youthful inexperience. I have to blame it on the forgetfulness (and distractions) of middle age.   😀

The dough never stopped rising. It was huge. And while it baked, it kept on rising. The bread was light and fluffy, for sure, but it tasted terrible. And no matter how long I baked it, it tasted under-cooked.

Lesson learned! Never leave out the salt when baking bread.

Today, I am going to bake some muffins for the kids to have for after-school snack. I’ll try to use just the right amount of salt.

I also enjoyed these stories from King Arthur’s Test Kitchen.

Posted in Baking, Happiness Project, Kids, Random | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Kitchen Disasters

Yesterday’s photo from The Frugal Girl brought back such a fun memory.

It was about 2 years ago. My daughter, known around here as Monkey, was helping me in the kitchen. She added a bunch of flour to the mixer, and then turned it on high. Very high.

You can guess what happened. Suddenly, there was flour everywhere. Not only were the floor and countertop covered with a fine dusting, there was flour inside the container for kitchen utensils, in every crevasse of the stove, and basically everywhere else, too.

Monkey’s eyes got very large. Her expression told me that she was expecting to get yelled at, and was trying not to cry.  She was covered, completely covered with flour, and looked like the creature from the white lagoon.

I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh.

And that got us started telling kitchen disaster stories.

Like, the time my grandmother’s pressure cooker broke a gasket, and the chicken soup she was making turned into a geyser. As it spread across the ceiling, it seemed to be raining chicken soup in the kitchen. Oy.

Or, the time my grandfather, visiting us when I was young, decided to soften some orange juice concentrate in the blender. (It sounds odd, but it was a common practice in my house. It makes deliciously frothy OJ, and it’s a lot cheaper than not-from-concentrate cartons.) He accidentally left a metal spoon in the blender. As soon as he turned it on, it broke, sending fine pieces of glass along with sticky orange juice everywhere.

Monkey and I laughed and laughed while we cleaned the kitchen that day. And I think it helped her to realize that sometimes accidents happen. There’s no reason to get upset. Just grab a sponge and start cleaning. 🙂

What’s your favorite kitchen mishap story? Please share it in the comments section below.

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Snow Day!

View from my bedroom window today

It’s a SNOW DAY! Gorgeous.

Of course, I only feel that way because I don’t have to go anywhere. Plus, I had the good fortune of meeting some adorable high school kids who are raising money for the school science team. (How cool is it, by the way, that there’s a school science team!?) They have a snowblower and at this very moment they are clearing the snow from our cars and the driveway.

What could be better than that?

I’m working from home, getting tons done because most of my meetings were cancelled. And, though it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m still in my PJs.

I know that by tomorrow this winter wonderland is going to seem more like a frigid wasteland. Getting the kids to school will not be easy, and I’m certain that the pretty whiteness will turn to gray yuckiness. But I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

In the meantime, look at the pretty snow!

Happy snow day, everyone. 🙂

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