Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kitchen Craziness

Allow me to preface this post with the following: In the last year I have really developed a love for the kitchen – mainly baking in it. I don’t really ever cook dinner, once a month, MAYBE. Usually, I just reheat or throw together a smorgasbord of food my mother has made throughout the week and call it good. Recently, my second cousin, Jenessa, and I volunteered to attempt to cook dinner for both of our families together. We had just established that neither of us really cooks, but that together we figured we had a better chance at success. Not really sure if we thought we would actually be cooking dinner for everyone, but it happened and here’s how:

Before I go any further, meet Jenessa (Isn’t she a cutie?!):

We obviously had NO clue what to make, so I volunteered to scour the internet for a healthy dinner recipe. Pretty quickly I stumbled upon Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Orzo – courtesy of Fitness Magazine. It looked like it had some good taste going on and would be pretty simple for not-so-experienced cooks. Jenessa agreed.

Our big day finally came. With the local pizza joint on speed dial, we began to chop, blend, clean and assemble what we hoped would be a wonderful dinner. While Jenessa started to gather all of our ingredients and cooking utensils, I attempted to chop sun-dried tomatoes. Notice, I said attempt. I passed this off to Karen – Jenessa’s beloved ‘bestie’ and co-worker (both of them teach in the same school as my mother, too). She also struggled with this and at one point handed me about ¾ of the amount we needed and asked, ‘Will this do?’ To which I replied, ‘If one of your students came up to you with a half-done test, what would you say?’ I can be quite sarcastic sometimes, but it was all with love. Karen got the hint and continued chopping. Such a trooper.

Sous chefs in action: My sister, Michelle, and Karen cleaning chicken later on. (I don’t do raw meat. It’s gross.)

Next up: combine water, red wine vinegar, marjoram, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes in a blender. Whoops. Forgot to grab red wine vinegar, so we improvised:
You think this would be an easy step - throwing ingredients into a blender. Not so much for us. After Jenessa put in three cups of water into the blender, I so gently asked her why it ‘looked like two cups of water?’ And then we noticed the puddle. The blender was leaking!! Enter our next assistant – Jordan (Jenessa’s younger brother). He attempted to tighten the seal, which failed in the end, so we opted for the smoothie maker. It sounds silly, but it worked quite well. I’m now not-so-secretly hoping someday we will have smoothie night.

Action shot: I think I had just discovered the blender leakage. My arms tell me I am quite concerned.

Here’s the smoothie maker with all of the sauce ingredients pre-blending:

Step 3: Cook the chicken. Uh oh. Karen and I started strong – putting in the listed amount of extra virgin olive oil in the pan (about 1 tablespoon). We then agreed that something was wrong – it didn’t look like it does when Rachel Ray does it. Wasn’t coating the pan, spreading around, and the pan wasn’t hot. (Keep in mind – we don’t know jack about cooking and this will be further demonstrated.) General consensus, and by general I mean Karen and I, was to pour in more oil, let the pan heat up and throw in the chicken. Turns out we were wrong, SURPRISE! My sister, who is quite the little cook, went on to enlighten us that we were indeed deep-frying the chicken! Whoops. Thankfully, she drained the huge excessive amount of oil and took over from there. Thanks, sis! I am obviously thrilled about this, not sure she was. Haha.

Meanwhile, Jordan sets the tables:

Last batch of chicken cooking and the sauce all blended and combined with artichokes and parmasean cheese. Yummmm!

We formed quite the assembly line to plate, garnish and serve the food. Also had to do some breaking up of the orzo, which we cooked way too early, but it all turned out awesome. Here are all of us with the finished product! And it tasted great! Success!! (Notice Jordan displaying Jenessa’s lovely garden salad in the middle.)

Up close. Looks delicious because it is!

While the prep time says 30 minutes, for those of us who are not professionals, it was more like an hour and a half. But, hey, we had fun. Lots of fun! And no one got sick (that I know of). I would definitely make it again, though, so yummy! For the complete recipe, click here: chicken and sun-dried tomato orzo!!!

To complete the dinner, I made dessert – frozen pineapple upside down cake with raspberry topping and black bean brownies. Look at this cake – gorgeous! Although it was delicious, it was definitely the last time I will ever attempt this cake. My mother and I were covered in this foam-like batter and it made a huge mess!

While I may not be the next Rachel Ray, I’m trying!! With a lot of help from some great people.

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