I’m not sure if I ever mentioned, but in case I haven’t, there’s something about me that you should know. I’m a teacher. I know, a lot of you are saying “What’s your point? Aside from your questionable grammar, and sometimes crude word choices, I fail to see how this matters in the grand scheme of cooking”. Oh, but reader, it does matter… because with that great responsibility of being a teacher comes the understanding that there are times in my life where being a teacher will become all consuming. This is particularly true if you teacher higher than 2nd grade, and even more so when at a Title 1 school (which I love and adore beyond any measure of words). In teacher land, there is an all consuming period of time where all other identities, all other priorities, and all other creative aspirations are swept aside because you are a teacher. You are no longer a wife, a friend, a sister, a writer, a fitness coach, or a chef… hell, you’re barely human through most of the time period. And much like the wizarding world won’t utter “VOLDEMORT”, teachers won’t utter “Testing Season”.
But when you’re a teacher, testing season comes with the territory, and you soldier on. That time frame runs from February to June if you happen to teach 5th grade, which I did during this past year. And maybe its not this way for every teacher, but it is for most of us because we share the same sentiments about this time of year and the well being of our students. You see, during testing season, the only thing that matters to me, for ALL hours of the day, are my ducklings.
Enter the 3 and 1/2 month hiatus from this dear, sweet blog! See, I told you my story mattered….
Now it’s not to say that I didn’t eat, I did- but this year’s “time that shall not be named” was particularly stressful, and so most of the meals that we ate were whatever we had the energy to throw together before falling asleep in our dinner plates. (Darling Husband works for the schools too- making sure all the computers are functioning properly for all of test season. EW. I think I’ll take my job instead!)
My kitchen mojo was missing. In fact, there was a 48 hour time period where I cried over smooshed panini sandwiches and a large clump of frozen chicken breasts in a completely irrational fashion. It’s alarming what exhaustion can do to a person.
BUT- At long last, testing season is over, summer break is stretching out before me, and I have returned to my happy balance in the kitchen. It’s time to get cookin’ again!
To kick things off : Lemon Dill Chicken
Today’s recipe is an adaptation from Eating Well
Eating Well- Lemon Dill Chicken
I saw it on Pinterest and thought ‘Well, that sounds good’. I will fully admit though, I am terrible at looking at a recipe before I dive on into it, and it turns out that I didn’t have a few of the ingredients on hand. Meh- no biggie, I’ll wing it as usual and change it up. The result? My take on this delicious chicken.
1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds chicken breast
Flour- some in shallow dish, + 2 tbsp
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dill (if you have fresh in your garden, awesome! Otherwise, use dried)
I started out with A LOT of chicken- 3 breasts that came from the Pamela Andersons of chickens. ONE would have sufficiently fed Kevin and I. That aside, here’s how it went:
I took each chicken breast and pounded them out with the flat side of a meat mallet. (I find that a frying pan works well in a pinch.) Then since mine were so large and in charge, I cut them in half, which gave me 6 pieces of chicken that were about a half inch thick.
Then, I dipped both sides of each piece into a flour, salt, and pepper mix that I had combined in a shallow dish with a fork. Do yourself a favor- use a paper plate for easy clean up. This step was not in the original version, but for me, the flour coat makes a nice barrier to lock in moisture for the chicken. When making chicken in a skillet, it’s very easy to make it holy chicken by cooking the hell out of it- so this help eliminate that mishap. Plus, it adds some nice color to the chicken.
Next, heat a large skillet and coat with oil twice around the pan. Once it’s good and hot, add your chicken in, being sure not to overcrowd the pan- I had to do two batches. Cook and brown the chicken for 3 minutes on each side and transfer to a plate. Tent it with foil.
At this point in the original recipe, it called for sauteing some minced onion and garlic. However, I didn’t feel like it, so I skipped it.
Moving on- I added a bit more oil to the pan (I assume butter would be fab here too) along with 2 tsp of flour. I stirred it a bit, until it made that paste-like consistency, and then added in 1 cup of chicken stock. (Word to the wise- if your smoke detector is sensitive like mine, and connected to ALL of the smoke detectors in the house- open a window prior to adding the stock. It will smoke. You have been warned.) Most people would recommend using a wisk at this part, as to avoid clumping when combining these ingredients. However, I think wisks are a pain in the neck to clean, so just go ahead and use whatever tool you were using. The clumps will break up, I swear, and there’s flour on the chicken anyway, so it’s fine. Honest. Follow that up with stirring in your dill and lemon juice. Let everyone hang out and simmer in the pan for 3 to 4 minutes.
Finally, add your chicken back in and turn it to medium. Let it continue to cook for about 5 more minutes. Plate it up and hit the whole thing with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of dill. Voila!
This evening, I served it up with buttered noodles, but I could see us eating it with some wilted spinach or orzo as well.
Happy eating, and thanks for reading!