Simple Suppers: Roasted Chicken Thighs

posted in: Simple Food | 0

Inside: We’re updating another food post, so cue the lovely food photography and easy-to-make recipe as we bring you Simple Suppers: Roasted Chicken Thighs. 

Simple Suppers: Roasted Chicken Thighs
A nice substantial supper that’s easy to prepare. Photo courtesy of Emily Moore.

Hands down, this is one of my favorite suppers. I came upon it by accident, really. I wanted my protein, and I didn’t want to stand around some skillet babysitting a piece of chicken. But my dilemma was I hadn’t thawed out any meat. So what’s a busy (or lazy) girl to do?

Grab a frozen chicken thigh, smear bacon grease over the top, season, and bake. How easy is that? Now, admittedly, it does take some patience waiting for the thighs to roast–an hour and twenty minute’s worth, mind you–but you’re free to go about your day doing other things. I can almost hear Mr. Rogers singing the waiting song, “Let’s think of something to do . . .”

Hmmm. . . A nap sounds good. Only to be woken by the wonderful smell of roasting meat. Just make sure you set the timer–and that you aren’t a deep sleeper!

Oven-roasted chicken thighs for a simple supper.
Come closer, you gorgeous hunk of chicken! Photo by Emily Moore.

So what can you pair with these oven-roasted beauties? Salad, of course. Green peas with plenty of butter would work well. My favorite, though, is green beans. I’ve often interrupted the baking, about thirty minutes in, to throw a few handfuls of–you guessed it–frozen green beans in the pan. If you’re partial to the idea, a word of caution: Don’t over crowd the pan with meat. I typically bake two thighs in an 8 x 8 pan. Because most chicken contains a salt solution these days, along with the bacon grease for this recipe, there is quite a bit of juice left in the pan.

Simple Suppers: Roasted Chicken Thighs
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Easy to make, no meat to thaw, and little prep time makes this an ideal simple supper.
  • 4 frozen chicken thighs with skin
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon grease (I keep mine in the refrigerator, which makes it stick better to the meat)
  • seasonings: salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Take the frozen thighs and place them in a large baking pan (9 x 13 is ideal), skin side up and not overcrowding them.
  3. Smear ½ a tablespoon of bacon grease over the top and sides of each thigh.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders to taste.
  5. Place pan in the oven and roast until the skin is golden brown, approximately 80 - 90 minutes.

Notes: I have used thawed chicken thighs and bacon grease drippings from my morning bacon, and it will work (adjust time accordingly), but what makes the frozen thighs and chilled bacon grease work so well is that the grease sticks to the meat longer, resulting in a crispy skin with all that bacon-y goodness. When serving, I spoon some of the pan drippings over my meat for even more flavor.

Ovens vary widely, and if yours tends to run hotter, you might start checking about an hour into the cooking time, looking for that golden brown color.

Do you have any tricks for getting supper on the table quickly? Tell us about it in the comments.

Simple oven-roasted chicken.
Yum! Time to eat. Photo by Emily Moore.

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When to Be Frugal, When to Be Foolish: An Unforgettable Anniversary

Inside: Most of the time it pays to be frugal, but occasionally a moment comes along too rich to pass up, when perhaps a bit of “foolishness” is in order.


When to Be Frugal, When to Be Foolish: An Unforgettable Anniversary

Yesterday we celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Looking back at the photos of these vaguely familiar happy kids, I wonder what I’d tell twenty-one-year-old me. Maybe I’d tell her the clichéd answer you often hear from older married folk at weddings, that there will be good times and bad, but I imagine she would have focused on worrying, then, about the bad ones ahead. On second thought, maybe I’d just say, “You’re going to make it, and you’ll have many happy times to celebrate. Remember that.”

True, we’ve marked many anniversaries, some good, the occasional bad, and a few odd or unusual ones to add to the mix. We spent our very first anniversary in Denali, Alaska, doing what? I don’t remember. A young couple, Terry and Marnell, put together a food basket with flavored rice packets and pastas for us.

Another anniversary our church happened to host a marriage seminar with Gary and Greg Smalley. Greg happened to be giving away copies of their books and asked whose anniversary was the closest. The couple next to us raised their hands, as we did, and I thought they were trying to help us get his attention. Turns out we were all celebrating, to which Greg Smalley, with a perplexed look, said, “Who attends a marriage seminar on their anniversary?”

I remember our twenty-fifth taking a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, when we turned in our huge bottle of coins, which helped pay for the short getaway. I’d like to say it was wonderful, but I was battling severe depression, and the trip didn’t provide the distraction I’d been hoping for.

Most celebrations, though, we’ve simply gone out to dinner, from pizza to steakhouses to Chinese. We’re not very original. Yet there was that one time. . .

When to Be Frugal, When to Be Foolish: An Unforgettable Anniversary
Powell Symphony Hall by night. Photo by Alise O’Brien.

Our fifteenth. I’d heard the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma was playing at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, and I really wanted to go. Mike said, sure, but I’d have to call for the tickets. Ugh! I hated making phone calls, but I wanted this so badly that I was motivated enough to do it. We’d been to the symphony before, the cheap nosebleed seats, and that was what I was prepared to pay for. But when I talked to the man at the box office, he said they only had a few seats left, and they were singles, though he did have two seats together on the main floor–for $75 a piece.

My heart sank, and I told him I didn’t know. Mike and I had decided we were no longer going to use our credit card for anything but true emergencies, and this certainly did not qualify.

“They’re really good seats,” the man said.

I hesitated, but then a still small voice, distinct from my own, said simply, “Buy the tickets.” Did I hear that right? I took a deep breath and gave my information. The tickets were ours.

Quickly the days passed until finally it was our anniversary–and our night at the concert. We arrived early to Powell Symphony Hall to find our seats, and as the man had said, they were good. Very good.

I don’t recall who addressed the audience, the conductor, maybe? He explained the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s selection of music that night was from Composer Aaron Copeland. It had been a year and a day since 9-11, and they had wanted something distinctly American. I’d never heard of Aaron Copeland and had no idea what to expect, but I soon recognized the music and discovered I was an accidental fan. (Think of the music from the “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” commercials of years ago.) They played Fanfare of the Common Man, which I recognized and Appalachian Spring, much of which I didn’t, until toward the end, the familiar Shaker Hymn “Simple Gifts.” I sat there, absorbing the music, listening to the light, airy quick-paced chorus from the woodwinds playing ‘Tis a gift be simple, ’tis a gift to be free . . . Then the stringed instruments taking their turn with the chorus, all the while building, building then the trumpets–still building. The tempo slowed, then, as the full orchestra joined together, slowly thundering ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free, filling every spare inch of the place, filling me with the most beautiful music I had ever heard. I blinked back tears, feeling so incredibly alive in the moment. It was then I heard that still small voice again. I wanted this for you.

Yo-Yo Ma followed, the main attraction of the night, and I thoroughly enjoyed his music. How often do you get to hear a world-renowned cellist play? After he finished, he ran his hand over his nose, as the auditorium broke out in applause, and I remember thinking he seemed like such a regular guy, not a pretentious bone in his body, and I liked that about him. But as wonderful as he was, my favorite moment of the night belonged to Aaron Copeland’s “Simple Gifts.” I had received my own simple gift that night, feeling as though the Creator of the Universe, my Father, had arranged it all just for us. For me.

All these years later, I still take this memory off the shelf, dust it off, and smile as I remember.

Have you ever been “foolish”? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Simple Suppers: Easy Pizza

posted in: Simple Food | 2

Inside: We’re starting a collection of simple suppers, Easy Pizza being our first recipe. It’s an update on a previous post, this time with pretty food pictures and printer-friendly recipe format. Enjoy!

Simple Suppers Easy Pizza
Easy to make pizza. Photo courtesy of Emily Moore.

I’m starting a collection of simple suppers on the blog, beginning with Easy Pizza. While it happens to be an update of an older post, the pretty pictures and printer-friendly recipe make it worthy of reposting.

And did I mention, just four ingredients?

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I like having simple meals. This one has been a Friday night staple in our house for a long time. Mine is low carb, but yours doesn’t have to be if that’s not your thing. Your favorite flatbread of tortilla will work just fine.

Easy pizza made with four ingredients.
Table for two? Photo by Emily Moore.

And that’s where this recipe starts–the bread. Then add marinara or spaghetti sauce from a jar, shredded cheese, and those sliced pepperonis in the lunchmeat section of the grocery store.

Additional toppings? That’s up to you.

Easy Pizza
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
An easy pizza recipe with only four ingredients.
  • 1 low carb flatbread of tortilla (I use Aldi's Fit and Active original flatbread)
  • 3 tablespoons of marinara sauce
  • 12 slices of pepperoni
  • ⅓ cup of pizza cheese (I use provel, a cheese originating in St. Louis)
  • a little olive oil for the flatbread
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Apply a thin coating of oil to both sides of the flatbread.
  3. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil and bake for 5 - 7 minutes until slightly brown and a little crispy.
  4. Remove from oven and spread marinara on flatbread to the edges.
  5. Layer pepperoni slices on top.
  6. Sprinkle cheese on top and slip back into the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until the cheese starts to brown.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes: You can use regular flatbread or a tortilla for a  base. For a softer crust, skip baking the flatbread alone and go right to layering on the toppings and baking the pizza. I sometimes put mushrooms and onions on the pizza. If sliced thin, they’ll cook, or you can briefly microwave for 30 – 60 seconds to soften before layering on the pizza. Pre-cooked sausage is also good on these.

What’s your favorite simple supper? Tell us about it in the comments.

Pizza topped with basil.
Fresh basil goes good with pizza. Photo courtesy of Emily Moore.

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Slipping into Fall, Internet-less, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Inside: The unmistakable hint of fall, surviving gracefully when your Internet is down, and an all-around trying week! 

Slipping into fall.
My cornfield of dreams, September version.


The Unmistakable Hint of Fall

Summer, we hardly knew ye! Or at least that’s the way I feel on this end. The season of long days and living outdoors seemed to zip by, though it was wonderful while it lasted. But if I’m being perfectly honest, while summer and I are good friends, I’m head over heels in love with fall! Chirping crickets, small patches of leaves blushing, the scent of wood smoke in the air. Woolly worms moving at rapid pace, as if on a mission. I’ve been collecting these little hints of my favorite season for the last several weeks now. I’ve been greeting many a morning in sweats and long sleeve shirts. Twice I’ve turned on the electric fireplace to take the chill off. And all the while I’ve been smiling. Something about this time of year makes me feel so alive. I want to buy large bright orange pumpkins, just because, and take long walks in the woods. I want to wear my boots and sweaters and go apple picking, then come home with the spoils and make fried apples. I want to sip pumpkin lattes and read a good book at The Bean. And that’s just for starters. I found this cool (pun not originally intended, but, hey, why not?) fall bucket list which you can actually download and print if you run out of ideas. Apparently I’m not the only fall fanatic.

Surviving Gracefully When Your Internet is Down

Searching the Internet.
Searching for my Internet. . .

Today my Internet has been restored! Halleluiah! (And I really do mean that.) It’s been a frustrating nine days of dealing with tech support chats, finding Internet sources to quickly jump on, do my business, and get off again. No leisurely searching topics or reading emails as I watch Hogan’s Heroes reruns at night. No double and triple checking of website posts and stats (hello, is anybody really reading this thing?) or looking up a recipe for tomato pie.

To say the least it has been . . . enlightening. I discovered that I spend (and sometimes waste) a great deal of time online–and I don’t even do Facebook. I also learned that I rely heavily on it for such things as daily devotional Bible reading in the version of my choice, to being able to check weather and bank statements multiple times daily, to keeping in the know with my friends and writing community and critique group commitments and clients from my editing business. To research topics of interest. (To be fair, our county does not have a public library system, so some time I might spend at a library researching is spent online.)

So now here’s the million-dollar question: What’s the takeaway? (I do believe this happened for a reason.) I know that I need more balance and discipline. If I’m complaining that there isn’t enough time to complete my to-do list, I might need to take a look at where I’ve been spending my time. If I’m scratching my head at the fact that other people seem to be able to read more books than I do, I might need to shut my laptop and avoid the Internet on my Kindle and read some of those books in my digital library. Or, heck, crack open something that has pages and an actual spine. Yeah, I might try that.

An All-around Trying Week

Mom and I said our goodbyes on August 28, the day before she embarked on a two-week stay with my brother in Colorado, and everything was pretty calm around the farm. I knew I’d be on daily chicken duty–feeding, watering, collecting eggs–as well as looking after her cats and keeping her flowers and garden watered. No sweat. But then a series of unfortunate events (no, not of the Lemony Snicket variety) happened, and life got busy, frustrating, and rather angsty–as in “Hey, God, aren’t You listening to me? Can’t You do something about all of these problems?”

As previously mentioned, we lost our Internet connection, which you’d think was our only communication with the outside world. Our cats mysteriously came down with something viral, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea, and I was quickly using up the spray cleaner and paper towels. We were suddenly low on funds, but we needed to make a trip to the store. I had an editing project due that I could just not make traction on, and I dreaded emailing my client to tell her. It was like every moment of my time was eaten up with something extra, and little annoying problems kept cropping up as I simply went about my day doing regular household chores. Then we headed out early Saturday and spent several fruitless hours trying to locate a DSL modem so we could make things happen quicker to restore our Internet–to no avail. In the middle of the running, Mike turned to me and said, “Oh, yeah, they’re collecting baby items to send to Texas. It’s only today and tomorrow morning.” He went on to explain our church had rented a U-Haul truck to drive down the items to flood victims.

I’d like to say my immediate reaction rivaled the Good Samaritan. It didn’t. I sighed, thinking, Great, one more stop. And I thought about juggling funds, figuring out how to do it, where to make this mad dash before we had to be at church. Then lo and behold, a Walmart Neighborhood Market seemed to sprout up from nowhere. I’d never heard of such a thing, much less expected to see it on that stretch of road. Apparently it was new. Then I remembered a Visa gift card I’d been holding on to like a miser, waiting for some perfect item to spend it on. I told Mike how we could pay for it, and we entered the market and went searching for the baby aisle.

Once there we debated what size of diapers to get, and then we just got one package of each. Then we picked up some powdered formula, thinking that would probably work best to hand out to flood victims. Then we picked up wipes, some regular, some for sensitive skin just in case. And, you know, a funny thing happened. With each item added to the cart, a feeling of joy swept over me. I kept blinking back happy tears, thinking how fortunate I was, how good it felt to be able to help people, and how thankful I was that I could be a part of it all.

“Sometimes I need to remember how good it feels to give,” I said to Mike, thinking how, ironically, I was really the one receiving the gift.

We headed over to the self-checker, scanning the items, and before the tally the opportunity to give $1, $2, or $5 to Red Cross relief efforts appeared on the screen. I pressed the $5, not knowing what the total was, and wouldn’t you know it, the gift card paid for it all with about a dollar to spare.

In the scheme of things, the problems I thought I had didn’t compare with people who’d lost everything and had to wait in line for common, simple necessities like water and food and clothes. I imagined some distraught mother having to keep a wet diaper on her child because she didn’t have any left. Sure puts life into perspective.

And I definitely needed that.

Giving to the flood victims.
Baby items for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

How did your week go? Tell us about it in the comments.

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