Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma and Pa
Not the way that I do love you
Now that we're all instilled with a rush of wide-eyed optimism, let's talk about wholesome things like old friends and Sunday dinners.
Nick and Lanier and I have Sunday dinner together every Sunday. Lani and I have always liked mandatory, scheduled fun like this. From eighth grade until we graduated from high school, Lanier and I spent every. single. Thursday together, lounging around the Waffle House or the park or the mall or my house, eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup or Velveeta mac and cheese, gossiping in our trademark light-speed clip. When Lanier moved to Atlanta last fall and we were living in the same city for the first time since 2001, we fell into the Sunday night tradition almost immediately. Sunday night at my house has always promised a big dinner and The Simpsons and a glass of wine or two, and so Lanier and Phinny fit right into the routine.
Now I look forward to Sunday night to be my big night for fixing needlessly elaborate dinners. Lanier has Celiac disease, so all of our Sunday dinners are gluten-free. Exhibit A--Breakfast for Dinner 10 Jan 2010:
[clockwise from top]: homemade fruit salad, fried chicken and waffles, roasted potatoes, breakfast casserole. Lanier had gluten-free waffles.
This Sunday found me in a conundrum. What should I fix? I poked around the kitchen and found a bag of red potatoes ($1.99 for 5 lbs last week at Kroger), a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts (bought last week at Publix for a song--less than .50) three enormous seasoned chicken legs I had picked up at Kroger a month or so ago when they were on manager's special for $3.00.
I was reminded of a few recipes I had been meaning to try out. I read a bunch of food blogs on my Google Reader, and I had starred Simply Recipe's Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe and Dutch Girl Cooking's recipe for Hot Crash Orange Potatoes. Voila! Sunday dinner solved.
I have only recently been learning my way around chicken with bones in it. Having been vegetarian for my formative years and being married to a man whose enthusiasm for meat is as minimal as mine, it has not really been necessary for me to learn how to cook scary-looking chicken parts like legs. That is, until I realized that scary-looking chicken parts go on sale for $1/lb or less. And that bone-in chicken looks really impressive when you cook it. Being not-so-knowledgeable about fixing chicken parts that are not breasts, I consulted Simply Recipe's Classic Baked Chicken recipe for guidelines on how long to bake it.
before it went in
when it came out! golden and delicious
The Hot Crash Orange Potatoes were slightly less daunting. You basically boil some small potatoes (I used red potatoes since I had them handy), smash them a little with a masher, spoon on some of this amazing butter/orange zest/parsley/garlic mixture, and bake until crispy. Pretty idiot-proof.
Before it went into the oven
How it's supposed to look when it's done
How it actually looked when it came out
The Brussels sprouts were a bit more of a gamble. My father used to grow Brussels sprouts in his garden, and I remembered them being delicious, if not a little bitter. The recipe called for fresh Brussels sprouts to be roasted in the oven. But I had frozen Steamfresh Brussels sprouts, which meant I had to switch things up a little. I steamed the sprouts in their bag in the microwave for the minimum amount of time recommended by the directions. Then I sauteed them instead of roasting them. The recipe says the key is salt, so I salted the hell out of those suckers.
Sauteing in some olive oil with garlic and lemon juice and lots of salt
How it's supposed to look when it's done
How it actually looked
All in all, a rousing success!!
Lanier noms on a sprout.
The chicken was moist and perfectly done. The Hot Crash Orange Potatoes were fantastic--the orange flavor is so unexpected. When I fix them again, I'll use smaller potatoes and a little more butter sauce--they were a little bland.
But the big winner of the night were the Brussel sprouts. Nick and Lanier were both skeptical about the Brussels sprouts but had to agree that they were amazing. The lemon juice gave them an incredible brightness, and the salt somehow perfectly cancels the bitterness out. I wanted to eat the entire pan. There wasn't a single one left at the end of the night.
I saved the tasty seasoned drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan, three or four leftover potatoes, and the bones/leftovers from the chicken. Throw it in the crock pot with a little chicken broth and some veggies and we've got tomorrow night's dinner! I actually meant to do that today and completely forgot.
I'll leave you with one little lagniappe! My Mardi Gras tablescape:
Silver tray (wedding gift from Aunt Grace and Uncle Larry); glassware left over from wedding candy buffet; Mardi Gras beads caught by yours truly, soy candle I poured into a vintage restaurant sugar packet caddy; Glade candle from last week's CVS run; multicolored garland scored at Target after Christmas clearance for $0.20 for like ten million yards