So Easy

The truth is, I’m not a bad cook when I feel like going to the effort. But cooking elaborate things for just myself is lame, so I don’t really do it. My roommate probably thinks the only things I know how to “cook” are spaghetti, frozen lasagna, salad, and rice in the rice maker (and even the rice maker has only been used a handful of times in the year I’ve lived in the house). And a confession- food often goes bad in my fridge, either because I don’t eat it once I’ve cooked it (I eat out WAY too much), or because I buy food intending to cook it, but never make the time to cook it. Also, because I’ve been intimidated to cook chicken. I’ve had a few disastrous attempts over the years, and, well, isn’t that why there’s always a case full of hot roasted chicken at the store (which I will buy, debone, and let half of go bad)?

However, the time has come for me to start being very mindful of what I am consuming and lose this weight I’ve been carrying around for way too long. Time to work on my eating issues and actually stick to a food plan. That food plan requires me to buy fresh foods at the grocery store and actually MAKE meals for myself that consist of fresh, healthful ingredients.

The salads for weekday lunches are easy and require minimal effort. Fruit for breakfast and snacks is also easy. But my plan calls for me to be eating baked chicken and steamed vegetables for dinner on weeknights.

I am embarrassed to tell you how much chicken has gone bad in my fridge because I have been intimidated by cooking it (and we’re not even going to think about that time I gave myself salmonella becasue I couldn’t take the thought of throwing out yet another package). What if it came out totally dry? What if, like that time I tried to make funeral food, I cooked it for 3 hours and it was still pink next to the bone? I will tackle an unknown recipe from epicurious because it sounds good, armed with nothing but a recipe and a counter full of ingredients, but oven-baking chicken intimidates me.

Then over the summer my friend Kate served me “oven-fried chicken”. Easy peasy and delicious, but requires eggs, milk, and seasoned flour. (TANGENT: I grew up eating my mom’s fried chicken, and she makes her own seasoned flour. I have tried and tried as an adult to make my mom’s seasoned flour, but she doesn’t use a recipe. She does it by sight and taste, and I cannot for the life of me reproduce it. So, when I wanted to try oven-fried chicken at home, I called my mom and begged her to make me a jar of flour for my very own, and, because she loves me, she did.) I’ve made it a few times, but actually forgot about it until just now writing this post. Maybe I’ll make some up some week if I get sick of plain.

I did a search for baked chicken recipes, but many, many of them required extra ingredients. I wanted a recipe to tell me, plainly, how to bake chicken, and just chicken. I found this recipe, and decided a couple of weeks ago to give it a shot, and it turned out SO YUMMY, and made the house smell awesome as well. I made a few changes- I coated the bottom of the pan with a light layer of olive oil (a single teaspoon and a basting brush will coat a large roasting pan), and instead of sprinkling both sides of the chicken with spices, I sprinkled salt, pepper and garlic powder on the bottom of the pan, laid the chicken in (I use thighs rather than whole chicken parts) brushed them lightly with olive oil, and sprinkled the tops with the same salt, pepper and garlic powder. And I forgot to turn the oven down after 30 minutes, but have found that 2lbs of chicken at 400 degrees for 45 minutes turns out incredibly well. Remove chicken from roasting pan onto a plate immediately, and cover as the recipe instructs. Delicious and keeps well in the fridge. So easy.

P.S. I’m looking for microwave steaming options that don’t involve disposable plastic bags. Anyone have something they use and love?

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