The Windy City Momma Cooked & No One Died

I don’t cook. I am one of those moms who enters the kitchen intending to make a masterpiece and winding up with more of a mess.  Who knew that pizza dough, when tossed, does actually stick to the ceiling? Anyway, as a result of tasting some of my more interesting concoctions (pizza-a-la-ceiling anyone?), neither my husband nor our daughter expect (nor ask) me to make dinner for them (or any meal for that matter).

Easy & Healthy Dinner

Unfortunately, however, the husband travels for work…a lot. And when he is not flying into NYC or San Francisco, he eats out with clients and colleagues in Chicago.  So, my daughter and I have been left to our devices to feed ourselves over the past few years.  My waistline has reflected our dining work arounds (read: fast food, pizza, Chinese and sushi).

Last month I decided that we had make better dining choices and, you guessed it: I decided to cook SOMETHING! (No need to be scared, no one wound up in the ER…read on).

I scoured through the 300+ cookbooks that we have acquired over our years of marriage and was going to select quail with quinoa when I happened to turn on the radio and tuned into Terri Gross (NPR: Fresh Air) interviewing Ruth Reichl the former Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine who was discussing her favorite Tuesday night “need-to-make-dinner-now” recipe.  BINGO! 

Here is the (modified) recipe for Three (really 4) C’s Chicken Breasts:

  • 4 Chicken breast halves (preferably with the bone–it’ll be moister)
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil (I use Olive Oil)
  • 4 Tbsp Water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Clean, de-fat and rub chicken until it is dry
Stir together spices, salt and 1 & 1/2 tsp oil. Rub evenly all over the chicken including under the skin

Heat remaining oil over a moderately high heat in an oven-proof heavy skillet.  (You want the oil to be hot but not smoking.)

Brown the chicken on both sides for about 5 minutes (in total–not on each side!)

Transfer the skillet to the middle of the oven and roast the chicken, skin side up until just cooked through (16–18 minutes)

While you are waiting, get busy making side dishes like rice (brown preferably) and steamed vegetables.  (We are going for healthy, right?)

Transfer chicken to a plate when cooking is complete.
Add water to the pan and deglaze over high heat, scraping up the brown bits.

Pour the resulting sauce over the chicken and serve!

In one word: it was delicious!  I did not set the kitchen on fire, no one was burned nor poisoned.  My daughter actually asked for seconds and (when my husband came home from his latest trip) confessed that I make chicken better than he does!  How is that for an endorsement?

So, now with one recipe under my proverbial belt I am off and running.  Next stop?  Trader Joe’s of course! Baby steps people, baby steps.