Back to school is always bittersweet. Emma and I seem to get into a groove in the summer of morning walks to the grocery store, pool family dinners and a house scattered with toys. However, as someone who has worked for and by themselves for 10 years, at the end of summer I am always craving a little creative "me" time and mind space.
I love that I live somewhere between the world of a working Mom and a stay-at-home. We still get to lounge in pjs a couple of times a week, have ballet Friday morning followed by lunch with the girls, and we spend afternoons piddling around the house/yard. It is the perfect world for me. I know everyone has their happy place of working or at home (or are working on finding it), but for me, it was a huge mental burden lifted when I allowed myself to realize that this in-between place makes our family work the best.
Perhaps it was because I grew up with a Mom that worked part-time. I loved the days that we rode the bus from school and walked home down the gravel road to a vacuumed house, fresh sheets, warm chocolate chip cookies and some sort of casserole (or spaghetti sauce) already made. I could also tell that my Mom loved those days most, too. Because we lived in the country, I also loved the days when my Mom worked and we got to go to Granny's house after school. Granny's house meant cable TV (hello, nickelodeon), and running around a neighborhood with friends - which didn't happen at home when you lived on a gravel road. Maybe the mix of home and work was built into my blood? But now as Emma gets older, her "school" days get longer and more frequent as the balance is seeming to be teetering a toward school more and more - how did we get here so quickly?
I'm not quite ready for heavy beef stews and chilis yet, but I am looking for "slower" feeling dinners. I stumbled upon Chicken Fricassee on MarthaStewart.com. I'd never really come across it before, but loved that it had vegetables and a creamy white wine sauce, and finished with a squeeze of lemon, butter and tarragon.
4 chicken breasts
4 chicken thighs
(I used boneless and skinless because that is what Mike prefers)
sea salt & black pepper
3 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 rib of celery, dice
8 oz. of mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of white wine
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of cream
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Serving suggestions :
Rice, French Bread or Mashed Potatoes
Pat chicken with paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a heavy dutch oven. Add oil and brown chicken for 4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Cook onions, carrot, celery and mushrooms in the same pot until almost soft. Sprinkle with flour and cook for another minute until flour is absorbed. Pour in white wine and cook for another minute, stirring. Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaf.
In a small bowl, mix cream and egg yolks. Add a small amount of the hot stew mixture to the cream and yolks, stirring constantly. Your goal is to slowly warm the eggs so they don't scramble. Once warmed (after about 2 cups of stew mixture is added), pour into the stew pot with vegetables and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture reduces and thickens.
Add chicken back into the stew. Keep simmering until chicken is cooked through. Keep warm on low simmer or in the oven (about 250) until ready to serve. Before serving, add lemon, 1 tablespoon of butter and fresh tarragon. Serve with rice, french bread, or mashed potatoes.
Helper : )
Try to get good color on the chicken.
Don't over cook the vegetables, as they will continue to soften in the stew.
Sprinkled with flour.
Make sure the flour cooks in the butter/oil before you add the liquid, or you will end up with a raw flour taste.
White wine goes in.
And chicken stock with herbs. I used 4 cups of chicken stock, but would only use 3 next time (as I've included in the recipe), as it took me a while to reduce it down.
I've never used this technique with cream and egg - usually I use just butter and flour before mixing in hot stock. I love the creaminess!
Careful not to scramble : )
Preparing for end garnish.