Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Apples: A Retrospective / The Chicken Simmer

I had an apple after lunch yesterday, and it reinforced my long-held dislike of apples.

It's not that I have anything against the sweet crispness of a Fuji apple, or the homey wonder of a perfect Dutch apple pie a la mode. I just can't stand eating an apple out of hand. It's an inconvenience. My arguments are mainly three-fold:

  • It's a commitment - Once you bite into an apple, you can't just set it down and come back to it later. It gets brown, and when you come back to it, it looks pretty unappealing.

  • The juices - The juices run all out of the bite and make the apple all sticky. And that gives me one thing I hate - messy hands. Face it - you can't eat an apple and type at the same time.

  • The bite and slurp - because of those juices, and because you can't set it down, you have to keep biting and slurping. Do you know how self-conscious that makes me in a quiet office? Every time I bite down I think, "This has got to be getting on someone's nerves." I feel like the star in a commercial for crisp Fuji apples.

In addition, apples are pretty hit-and-miss. So many of them are bruised and oversweet or mealy. For that reason, I usually go for lighter colors, like the greens, yellows, pink blush. The Red Delicious - the long-held symbol of all apples - was forbidden in the Garden of Eden for a reason: It's a mealy motherfucker. If there's one thing I can't stand in this world it's a Red Delicious apple.

From here on out, the only time I'll eat an apple is when I have the opportunity to slice it into manageble chunks.

I know this is a petty discourse on everyday fruit, but given the option, I'll pick an orange. I can peel and section it, set it on a napkin for later, wash my hands, and munch at my own pace. Plus, everybody loves the smell of an orange.

On to a new recipe. I came up with this little dollbaby last night in an attempt to make a quick meal out of leftovers and cheap meat:

The Chicken Simmer

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (or any chicken part - these are just good for slow cooking)

Salt & Pepper, Garlic Powder

1 can Diced Tomatoes with Garlic and Onion (I like Del Monte)

1 large clove Garlic

1 small can Chopped Mushrooms

1/2 can quartered Artichoke Hearts, chopped (I just had it on hand - you can use any hearty veggie you like. I suggest frozen asparagus or spinach because most canned veggies are nasty. Artichokes are my exception.)

3 Tbsp Capers, Optional

1-2 Tbsp Goat Cheese (my fave brand is pictured - you can reseal it!) or Cream Cheese

Chopped Basil and Parsley, Optional
2 servings (4 oz. dry) Whole Wheat Spaghetti (or your favorite pasta)

Sprinkle one side of your chicken thighs with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place seasoned side down in a large, hot non-stick skillet (you should hear a sizzle). Do not move the chicken while it cooks for 5 minutes or until brown on that side. Sprinkle raw side of chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Flip and saute for 5 more minutes or until brown.

When chicken is brown on both sides (it doesn't have to be done in the middle), add the can of tomatoes to the pan. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered. Add chopped artichokes, mushrooms and crushed garlic. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Add capers to the chicken & veggie mix, and dollop with goat cheese. Stir carefully to combine. Sprinkle with basil and parsley and hot pepper flakes, if you fancy. Drain pasta and stir into chicken mixture. Let simmer for a couple of minutes and serve. Makes 2 hearty servings.

You can also shred the chicken and return it to the pan for easy eating...and to make sure it's fully cooked. But it will be, and it will be tender. Yumyumyumyum, et al.

Oh, and you can add a touch of vodka, then light it on fire with one of those clicky sticks. If you have a gas stove, make sure you remove the pan from heat before adding booze. The point - the alcohol burns away but the flavor remains. And you've made a classic vodka sauce. Go you.

So there's that,



Manda said...

Laura, you need to get an apple slicer. Do you have one?? I got one at Wally World for a couple bucks. Anytime I eat an apple now, I slice it like that. Don't get me wrong, it's still somewhat sticky and you still probably wouldn't type while eating, but you don't have to deal with the sucking the juices part. I don't like to suck things.


mkieper said...


That's not what Scott told me.

Laura said...

I love it!

I'll get an apple slicer one of these days. I could always knife one down in the office cafeteria before taking it to my desk; I just like to piss and moan.

And Michelle...that was in bad taste. Good work!

I can't resist this comeback:

Of course she doesn't suck; how do you think she became a mother?


Oh Manda, I love ya more than my luggage.

mkieper said...

Yes but he did come to me for sexual favors, and I've got a check from him to prove it.

yeah, she'd probably give her dog a kidney...if she had a dog that is.

Manda said...

you guys are brutal--I'm kinda thick, don't understand the dog and kidney line

Manda said...

Mags told me a few years ago Scott was cheating on me (don't get worked up about that!); at least now I know he kept it in the family!! :o) He knows how to pick the good ones...

mkieper said...

The dog and the kidney is another line from the movie Steel Magnolias.

I don't know how you haven't smacked the shit out of your mom. I know I want to just for her saying that shit to you.

Laura said...

Mags requires special treatment.

We haven't found it yet.