Here We Go!
After a quiet weekend in the country, we’re back in Houston. Uniforms are ready, textbooks are here, and computers are charged. We’re ready for this year! I’m focusing on all the positive experiences ahead of us. Even if we’re not one hundred percent “back to normal” we’re so close!
I spent some time with one of my nieces this summer, who is the head of a lower school in North Carolina. It gave me a deeper understanding of what our schools are going through. Our educators and administrators are trying to keep everyone happy from all sides. Parents, board members, teachers, fellow school leadership. It’s a tricky balancing act. Let’s all make an effort to say thank you to our teachers and anyone who provides a service in our communities. I’m not sure where this paragraph came from, because it’s not what I intended to write about. But a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness can go a long way in creating a shared sense of kindness and goodwill. Happy Sunday!
Dinner with friends. It feels so great to reconnect with Houston friends after a summer spent on the go. If you’re cooking at home, why not make something that will pay dividends (leftover lunches, leftover-makeover dinners). I’ve been brining my spatchcocked chicken before roasting it, and it makes for a juicy and tender bird! Here are the brining directions. When you’re ready to cook, dry the chicken well and cut out the spine (you can also have the butcher do this step ahead of time). Serve with a caesar salad, simple mashed potatoes, and roasted green beans (just toss with olive oil and kosher salt and roast at 425 for 25 mins).
- 10 cups water
- ½ cup apple cider
- ⅓ cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 5 rosemary sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine all of the ingredients for the brine. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir constantly, until the salt and brown sugar dissolve. This should only take about a minute. Remove the brine from the heat. Add a cup of ice to the brine and stir; let the brine cool completely. Remove the giblets from the chicken. Once the water has come to room temperature, place the chicken in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the liquid. Dry the chicken well and follow these directions.
If you have leftover chicken from Sunday, make a pot of tortilla soup. Or just grab a rotisserie chicken! Set out all the soup toppings, like grated cheese, pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced cabbage, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, whatever floats your boat! The recipe linked above is a Whole30 version without tortillas, but you can add thinly sliced corn tortillas to thicken the soup base. If just a bowl of soup won’t satisfy your crowd, add a side of quesadillas or a big crispy salad with garbanzos, radish, avocado, and greens. Chips and guac are always a good bet, too.
School starts tomorrow. I’m making weeknight lasagna for the fam, with a side of something green (broccoli, steamed broccolini, green beans, whatever sounds and looks good!). To add more veggies, replace one of the pasta layers with thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant. I’m trying it out and will post photos in Instagram stories. To make this gluten-free, use Cappello’s brand noodles or your favorite gluten-free lasagna noodle (no need to boil them ahead of time).
It’s national fajita day (don’t ask me how we know about these food days!). So, you guessed it, we’re having fajitas. These are a very simple weeknight recipe with lots of sautéed peppers and onions. The skirt steak and peppers are also delcious on salad greens with jalapeño ranch. And if you make the ranch during the day, your kids are 100% more likely to eat veggies after school.
I have a class for my cooking school membership today. I also hope you’ll tune in to Instagram Live at 8 pm tonight because I’ll be online with Hunter Bell for her Cocktails in the Closet series. I hope I can stay awake that late! Dinner is buffalo chicken wings with carrot and celery sticks and a side of, you guessed it, jalapeño ranch.
We’re going out for sure. Or getting takeout. Or just getting in our pajamas and pouring a bowl of cereal. The first two weeks of school are EXHAUSTING. It doesn’t matter if you have toddlers or teenagers. Take it easy, put your feet up, and call it a night.