Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rosemary and Lemon Chicken

You will need:
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 cloves of garlic
red pepper flakes
dijon mustard
2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 6 skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
cremini mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put salt, garlic, some of the rosemary (off the stem, of course), red pepper flakes, a couple teaspoons dijon mustard, juice from one lemon, and the olive oil in a food processor.  Pulse until a paste is formed (it may be slightly watery---that's okay).  Blot the chicken off with a paper towel (damp meat won't brown).  Gently pull the skin away from the meat and stuff part of the paste into each chicken thigh.  Toss a bit of olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  Put the chicken skin side down in a cast iron skillet and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.

Turn the chicken over and add in the juice from the remaining lemon.  Add the cremini mushrooms (chopped) into the skillet, along with the lemon halves and leftover sprigs of rosemary.

Put in the oven and roast for approximately 25 minutes.  

The best part of this meal is that the lemons were fresh off my father's lemon tree from his garden and the rosemary was clipped from my potted rosemary plant on my balcony.  Nothing beats fresh and home grown!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Counting My Blessings

One of my favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas.  Apart from the fun singing, dancing, costumes, and nostalgic appeal, there is a very real message embedded.  Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sing a beautiful song called "Count Your Blessings."

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

Whenever I hear this song now, I think of Ann Voskamp's beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts, which I read (twice) this year.  After reading her book, I intended to begin to count my blessings, listing all the gifts that are in my life up to a thousand (or more).  As 2011 comes to an end, I realize that this never came to fruition.  While others are lining up at store counters to get the best bargain, ordering the latest workout DVD or diet product, or buying a slinky strapless dress for New Year's Eve, (all of which I've done at one time or another in the past) I decided I'd better put my energy into something that will prove more meaningful.  So I intend to join Ann Voskamp on this journey.  I do not believe my list will be as inspired, articulate, or visually beautiful (hers has amazing photos), but it will be my list, and hopefully one of sincerity, candor, and joy.  So here goes.

1.  I am grateful for being able to spend today with my best friend.  She lives far away, and I only see her once a year now, but when we come together, it's as if we never parted.  I love her with all my heart.

2.  The beautiful Christmas Eve Mass with the amazing trumpet solo.  I felt Jesus there in that church with us.

3.  My sweet puppy dog asleep beside me, snuggled up and sighing as he dreams.

4.  My real Christmas tree, the glory of nature right in my own home, its lights shining and bouncing off the gold and red ornaments and reminding me of the light of Christ.

5.  The ring I received as a Christmas gift from my grandmother.  It belonged to my great great grandmother and reminds me of the importance of family and the way time marches on, the way we can cherish those who came before us.

6.  A sunset drive home on the causeway with dozens of pelicans coasting by and then swooping down into the water.

Our lives and our world are full of gifts, if we just open our eyes to their presence!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011


He was born in an obscure village,
The child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village,
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty.

Then for three years
He was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn't go to college.
He never visited a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles
From the place where he was born.
He did none of the things
One usually associates with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three
When the tide of public opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to his enemies.
And went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed to a cross
Between two thieves.
While he was dying,
His executioners gambled for his clothing,
The only property he had on Earth.
When he was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone,
And today he is the central figure
Of the human race,
And the leader of mankind's progress.

All the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliament that ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned,
Put together have not affected
The life of man on Earth
As much as that

ne  olitary  ife.
~~Dr James Allen Francis, © 1926~~