I wasn’t able to shop well in advance for this one, so I wanted something simple that used few ingredients. I found this on a website I really enjoy that’s stuffed full of lots of tasty, relatively healthy recipes: http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2013/03/12/chicken-with-garlic-balsamic-tomatoes/
Five ingredients plus a few pantry staples. Nothing I can’t handle, right? Anyway, earlier in the afternoon, headed to Whole Foods to buy those five ingredients and pondering what sides to serve, I passed a car with a green oval bumper sticker on it that said “Eat More Kale.” To which I responded in my head, Yes, what a great idea, I think I’ll do that today! So in addition to the five ingredients I needed for the chicken dish, I also picked up a bag of chopped washed kale, a big red onion, and a can of small black beans. Also, a few Yukon Gold potatoes for mashed potatoes, so I knew there’d be at least one thing on the plate my picky little Miss Sarah would be guaranteed to eat.
One doctor’s appointment and kid-pickup-from-games-club-at-the-library later, it was time to start cooking. First step was to pick through the kale, removing stems and tearing the pieces into smaller pieces.
I threw it a quick rinse because I don’t always trust industry to do it well enough for me. I chopped up the onion and started that cooking in the wok in some olive oil. Then I remembered a very important step that should really have come first.
There, that’s open. Let’s let that breathe a few minutes while we continue, shall we?
I set the water to boil for the mashed potatoes. Then I started more olive oil to heat on the stove as I salt-and-peppered the chicken cutlets. In a couple of minutes I started the cutlets to brown in the pan.
By this time I was really enjoying the wine. Obviously I couldn’t capture my IHeartRadio that was set to play Muse and similar artists, but believe me, by now I was really rocking out. I added the kale to the onions in the wok, and seasoned it with a generous amount of Sylvia’s Soulful Seasoned Salt.
Between the first and second batch of chicken cutlets in the pan, I realized I forgot the first step of adding the minced garlic and browning it. No problem, I thought, I’ll just add them after the first batch and before the second. This is where things started to spin out of control. By this time the oil was too hot and the garlic almost immediately burned. While I was cutting up the potatoes to go in the boiling water. And which I didn’t have time to deal with properly before the second batch of cutlets went in, because the pan was burning and needed more oil, and I couldn’t scrape anything out or I’d lose the yummy flavors that the balsamic vinegar would deglaze from the pan as it reduced. The kitchen was filling with smoke from the burned garlic at this point. Thank goodness it was 68 degrees so I could throw the windows open. I still needed to open the can of black beans and rinse them before adding them to the kale. I got the windows open and the second batch of cutlets in the pan before dealing with the beans, and was lucky to get the beans in there before the kale got the life cooked entirely out of it. Then I mashed the potatoes, for which I only had 2 percent milk rather than cream to add in, but I made do.
I can’t remember the last time I started to lose control of cooking a three-course family dinner.
My father arrived as I was in the thick of it, and I managed to get Sarah to entertain him so I could focus on finishing up dinner. I did manage to get everything done, but not by 5:30 sharp, which is target time for family dinner night. More like 5:45. The second batch of chicken cutlets burned a little bit and had a few burned garlic bits embedded in it, so I knew Sarah would never in a million years touch it. I selected the best, most perfectly golden-brown chicken cutlet from the first batch, cut it in half, and gave her the better half of it. I took the other half of that, along with half of one of the slightly-burned second batch cutlets, and gave my dad the other cutlet from the first batch. Sarah had set the table very nicely as I was plating up the food, wrapping up the utensils in their napkins diner-restaurant style. I brought everything to the table and snapped a picture as we sat down to eat, everything looking picture-perfect.
If you look closely at about 3 o’clock in the above picture, you can see Sarah’s hand approaching my wine glass. As it so happened, I snapped this pic a split second before she knocked my wineglass over, directly into her plate. I watched her plate fill up with wine and then the wine overflowing over the edge of the plate onto the table, all so fast there was nothing to be done about it. I was upset! I had so carefully given her the best piece of chicken, in the hopes she might deign to taste it, and there was no salvaging anything because it was soaked in wine. The worst part was that, while I had plenty more kale and potatoes, there was no more chicken to give her, because there was no way she would ever eat the one piece of chicken that was left by that time:
And I damn well wasn’t going to give her my own piece of first-batch cutlet, because I really wanted it and I wasn’t the one who ruined her plateful of food! So, she had an inferior replacement plate of food, and we both were engaged for a good five minutes in cleaning up the spilled wine that went everywhere, while my own plate got cold.
But in the end, it was all good. My dad enjoyed everything, I enjoyed everything after popping it back in the microwave for a minute to heat it back up, and Sarah had two big helpings of mashed potatoes though she turned up her nose at the kale and didn’t even want to sample my chicken and tomatoes. But at least she was full, right?
After some time passed for digestion, and more wine was drunk (by my dad and me, not Sarah), we had dessert. I had picked up cupcakes from Wildflour Bakery, a vegan bakery located in the same plaza where I had had my doctor’s appointment earlier that afternoon. My dad had peanut butter chocolate, Sarah had lemon vanilla, and I had apple caramel. They were delicious despite being, as my dad put it, “sort of healthy-tasting.” The frosting was especially good, light and fluffy. I realized that, with this being a vegan bakery, the frosting wasn’t based on creamed butter, and that I therefore had no idea what it was made of! Sometimes we are better off not knowing, I think.
I hope you enjoyed this Family Dinner Night photoblog!