17 October 2006

Chicken and Mice

When I was growing up, the dinner hour was sacred at our house. My mother, a SAHM until I was in high school, made dinner every night, and now that I’m all growed up and running my own household, I’m in awe of her skill; egad, how the heck did she get dinner on the table every night by 6pm, always cooked perfectly, always well balanced and nutritious?! One thing that she made pretty frequently that my sisters and I liked just fine and my dad hated was a chicken casserole dish. Dad called it Chicken and Mice. I dunno why he stuck it with that name, but when mum announced to dad that we were having chicken and rice for dinner, he always made a face and grumbled, “Chicken and mice? Again?”

I see the attraction that it held for my mum; cheap, quick, super-easy and with the addition of a green salad or another veggie, dinner was done. I would be willing to bet that you have all the ingredients in your pantry right now.

Chicken and Mice
2 cups rice
4 cups water
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope Lipton’s Soup Mix , any flavor (I use Savory Herb & Garlic, but any of them would work. Just check the package directions to make sure you’re not supposed to mix with milk instead of water.)

Using a 9x13 casserole dish put the dry rice in the bottom. Mix the soup mix and water in a measuring cup. Place the chicken over the rice, and add soup mixture, pouring slowly and carefully. Cover with aluminum foil so the chicken does not dry out. Bake in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes, until the chicken registers 180 on a meat thermometer and the rice absorbs all of the water.

See? Easy. Quick. Cheap. It makes a ton of rice, but I like that because rice takes so long to make and I like to have leftover rice for other dinners. You could cut the rice down to 1 cup, and then the water should only be 2 cups. My mum would make this with 4-5 chicken breasts and about a cup and a half of rice. I made it for Sunday dinner for DH and I this week. He was in a meeting of our homeowners association when I put it in the oven, and when he came back, he opened the door and said, “What smells so good?”

DH is not a fan of onions, but I think this would be wonderful with the onion-flavored soup.

My other favorite quick chicken dinner recipe is something I’ve written about before; it is a crock-pot recipe. Ten minutes in the morning before you head out the door to work and when you get home, dinner is DONE. I love my crock-pot.

On the political front, I don’t have a lot to say today. The Foley scandal continues to unfold; don’t you LOVE his excuses for sending inappropriate messages to teenaged congressional pages? 1. I’m an alcoholic 2. I was abused as a child 3. I’m gay. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic told me that she finds his attempt to blame his behavior on his disease particularly offensive. Personally, I find it all offensive; he’s tossing excuses at the wall to see which one sticks. The fact that your sexual orientation is homo or hetero does not make you a pedophile; you’re a pedophile because you have something wrong with your brain circuitry. And scandals like this just confirm what red state-ers already think, that homosexuality automatically equals sexual predator. And that makes me angry, because it simply re-enforces that ignorant belief.

A complete change of gears now; it is fund drive time on all 3 public radio stations that I listen to. You know that you’re a complete public radio junkie when you continue to listen during the fund drives. I give to the station that I listen to online every day, which is a very unusual public radio station; they play “World Class Quality Rock” and I’ve heard more new music listening to them for about the past 4 years than I ever did listening to pop radio, which I can’t even do anymore because the commercials make me soooo nuts. I also give to the local NPR affiliate. NPR fund drives are kind of worse than the other station; I listen to NPR for news, and during fund drives they break into the news and interrupt the broadcast to beg for money. On the pop station, they do it where there would be commercial breaks on a regular station, so they’re not breaking in to your current favorite song to beg. But it does cut down on the amount of music they’re able to play.

I used to drive 500 miles a week for work when I worked for the big ol’ bank, and I listened to 2 NPR stations because the drive took me out of the range of one station and into another. You spend 6 hours a week in the car and then tell me that commercial radio is where it’s at. Here’s a hint: it isn’t. The commercial stations drove me so crazy during the 7 years that I made that drive. So nuts that I can no longer spend more that 10 minutes listening to them. DH alternates between top 40 and classic rock in his car, and it is hard to say which of the two stations irritates me more. Probably the top 40 station is the more annoying of the two, because it is heavy on the repetitive commercials and heavy bass. I often look over at him in the driver’s seat when we’re in his car and ask, “WTF are you LISTENING to?” because he /hates/ hip-hop and R&B and the top 40 crew plays A LOT of that.

If I wasn’t in my current field, I think I would like to work in radio. As an on-air personality, you understand, not ever in sales or administration. Here’s what I think my chances of doing that for a living are: zero. I don’t have a fantastic speaking voice; in fact, the sound of my own voice on tape gives me the heebie-jeebies. But I’d like to give it a shot. I’ve done TV interviews for work (so not fun) but I’ve never been in a radio studio, and I’d like to give that a shot. Could be fun, ya know?

Soundtrack for the day is Gnarls Barkley “Crazy”, from the St Elsewhere album

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