The Elusive Chicken Tuscany

When D and I were dating, we used to love to go to a restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi called Amerigo. It’s still one of our favorite places to eat when we go see friends in that neck of the woods, and we’ve also been to the Amerigo in Nashville a time or two. They serve food that I would classify as rustic Italian, only I’ve never been to Italy and I don’t have any idea if my assessment is accurate or not. Mainly it’s just that I can hear Giada deLaurentiis saying “rustic Italian” in my head, so I’m going with it.

Our favorite thing to order at Amerigo (besides the cheese fritters – OH MY WORD THE CHEESE FRITTERS) is a dish called Chicken Tuscany. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make the brown wine sauce that’s a critical part of the dish, but it’s almost become a joke with us because, well, I don’t really know how to make sauces. I can follow recipes, mind you, and if I’m feeling adventurous in the kitchen I’ll improvise, but I’ve never felt brave enough to take a stab at the brown wine sauce. It’s legendary, after all.

Well. On Thanksgiving I made a stuffed pork loin for dinner, and after I took the meat out of the roasting pan I decided to make some gravy. I used beef stock (I normally just use water when I’m making gravy for something like country fried steak), and the color was so pretty and the flavor was so delicious that it made me wonder if I couldn’t tackle the brown wine sauce after all.

IT FELT SORT OF LIKE I SET A GOAL, Y’ALL.

The weather here turned really cold Sunday, and I decided that Chicken Tuscany sounded absolutely delicious. The only problem? I didn’t have a recipe. And, um, I haven’t eaten Chicken Tuscany in about three years. But other than that I was totally prepared to add it to my suppertime repertoire.

As it turns out, the Internet can be very handy. After a quick Google search and a few clicks, I found the Amerigo recipe online. The person who posted the recipe made a point to say that he/she got it from someone who used to work at Amerigo, so clearly there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the recipe was the real deal. After all, the everything on the Internet is true.

I decided to take a chance and try the recipe, so earlier this week I bought the ingredients. I had most of the seasonings on hand, and even though the recipe looked a little complicated, the ingredients were simple – which always makes me feel better for some reason. If I’m going to be following 18 steps, I’d prefer that those 18 steps involve chicken and not some rare form of elk meat. I’d rather not get in a culinary wrestling match with sea urchin, you know?

Tuesday night I made the marinade for my chicken, and last night I actually made the Chicken Tuscany. I have to tell you in all humility that IT. WAS. AWESOME. And the awesomeness was no thanks to me, by the way – it’s just a great recipe with fresh ingredients, and oh sweet mercy I will be making it again. I may even make it for Christmas dinner – because the colors are beautiful and festive and it’s a great change of pace from our normal pork tenderloin.

(Pretend there’s a picture of the finished dish here.)

(I sort of forgot to do that part.)

(But imagine a nest of angel hair pasta with a browned and crisp chicken breast on top, all topped with a divine brown sauce that has flecks of red and green in it.)

(Now sigh contentedly.)

So given all of that, here’s the recipe. If you like to cook, you’ll have a blast with it.

And just in case you try it, a few suggestions:

1. Chop everything that needs to be chopped ahead of time. Pretend you’re on a cooking show and need for all your ingredients to be in sassy little ramekins. I didn’t think through all the steps before I started, and I ended up stopping and starting a lot. Get all your ingredients measured and set aside and ready to go.

2. You need 2 skillets, 1 medium saucepan and a Dutch oven for this recipe. Or maybe you don’t need a Dutch oven. But that’s what I use to cook noodles. So maybe you just need a big pot. Regardless, you need a saucepan for the first stage of the wine sauce, a skillet for sauteeing all your vegetables and finishing the sauce, a bigger skillet for cooking your chicken – and the aforementioned pasta pot. You’re welcome.

3. I didn’t use Chianti, mainly because my only experience with Chianti has been when I saw Hannibal Lecter talk about it in “Silence of the Lambs.” I just bought a regular red table wine – a brand that I used some last year when I made stew. It worked fine. And here’s a fun fact: I don’t like red wine. At least not to drink it. Apparently my palate is not refined enough to appreciate the taste. And also: who wants a room temperature beverage? NOT I.

Maybe I’d like red wine more if I could drink it over crushed ice like my beloved Diet Coke.

But I digress.

4. I wish I’d used chicken cutlets instead of big ole chicken breasts. I couldn’t get the chicken breasts pounded as thin as I would’ve liked – so next time I think I’ll make a point to buy much thinner cut of meat.

5. Make sure you have big ole loaf of good bread handy. I had a loaf of Tuscan bread from Fresh Market, and it was perfection. D said that he could make a meal out of nothing but the bread and the brown wine sauce. If I’d had time and planned ahead, though, I would’ve served this homemade bread because it’s so easy and unbelievably tasty.

All righty. There you have it. The story of how I finally made Chicken Tuscany. I feel like such a grown-up now.

Have y’all conquered any exciting new culinary territory lately? Run across a great recipe that you’d like to share with the class? Can’t wait to hear. Or read. Or whathaveyou.

A Game-Changer

Most of y’all know that I love to cook. LOVE. IT. In fact, just thinking about the fact that the holidays are right around the corner makes me a wee bit giddy. Before I know what’s hit me it’ll be time to pull out all my food magazines and a big stack of Post-Its and GO TO TOWN marking all the new recipes that I want to try. It’s my grown-up version of going through the Sears Christmas catalog and dog-earing all the toys that strike my fancy.

So given all of that, it’s sort of a wonder to me that, up until a few weeks ago, I never owned a really good knife. I mean, I had knives, of course, and I used them, and I tried my best to sharpen them, but they were all pretty low on the quality scale. They were serviceable, though, so I tried to make the best of my sub-par kitchen knife situation – even when slicing potatoes reminded me of what it might be like if I tried to cut upholstery fabric with a butter knife. Not that I would ever do such a thing, of course.

Back in the summer I started looking at “good” knives – but it seemed a little extravagant to buy myself something so nice just because I wanted to have an easier time dicing our celery. So I put my knife dreams on hold – difficult though it was – and I figured that eventually there might be a holiday or a birthday when all my knife dreams would come true.

By the way, if you’re looking for a reliable test as to whether you’ve actually crossed over into Officially Grown-Up territory, I think having dreams of a really good knife probably answers that question for you. In fact, just go ahead and let those knife dreams be your assurance that your days of immaturity are far behind you. BECAUSE YOU HAVE A WISH-LIST OF KITCHEN UTENSILS, YOU SEE.

Anyway, do you know what my people gave me for a birthday present this year? Do you know? Can you guess? Will you ever believe?

They gave me a really wonderful kitchen knife. The knife of my dreams, in fact. And for the record, that last sentence is absolutely the most lame thing I have ever written, and I FOR ONE COULD NOT BE MORE DELIGHTED.

I love my knife. I adore it. I look for excuses to use it. And the first time I ever sliced an onion with it, I realized that I hadn’t actually been cutting things for lo, all these many years that I’ve been spending untold hours in the kitchen. I’d just been sawing. Sawing meat. Sawing carrots. Sawing sweet potatoes. But not cutting. Oh, no. I had completely missed out on the wonders of cutting and cubing and dicing and slicing.

All those things are glorious, by the way.

GLORIOUS.

(For the record, I wasn’t using the knife when I took that picture. I stuck the knife in the onion, then took the picture. I just didn’t want you to be concerned for my safety. Because I’m sure you would’ve lost COUNTLESS HOURS OF SLEEP if you thought I was using my knife improperly.)

(Also for the record: I make myself tired.)

It’s such a simple thing: a good knife. And as someone who spends a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I can honestly say that it’s made a world of difference. It’s my new best friend forever (we’re TOTALLY BFFs, y’all). In fact, I’m going to go check on it now. Just to make sure it’s resting comfortably in its drawer.

So. What’s your BFF in the kitchen? What’s the one kitchen utensil you don’t want to live without?

An Unexpectedly Happy Cooking Moment

I’ve never made a loaf of homemade bread in my life. IN MY LIFE. The mere mention of starters and kneading and rolling and rising and etc. is enough to send me into a cold sweat. It’s just always seemed like a whole lot of trouble considering that I can pick up a loaf at the store and never even have to turn on my oven, thank you very much.

Lately, however, I’ve had a little bit of a change of heart. For the last few months I’ve been trying to eliminate “convenience” foods from our meals – with the exception of the occasional box of Cheez-Its, DON’T YOU JUDGE ME – and I’ve been looking for ways to make things I would ordinarily buy. That’s why I can now make a pretty decent homemade pizza crust, and it’s why my favorite new smell in the world is a pot of black beans simmering on the stove (oh, cumin – you do marvelous work).

ANYWAY.

Last week I picked up the May issue of Food Network Magazine (I LOVE IT), and I noticed a recipe for No-Knead Peasant Bread. I read the directions and thought it sounded do-able, but I wondered if it was way more complicated than the recipe indicated. After a little research, though, I discovered that Jaden at Steamy Kitchen has a similar recipe on her site, and for me that was confirmation that I needed to try it.

All that to say: I finally worked up the nerve to make my first loaf of homemade bread. And I used Jaden’s recipe, just FYI.

Sunday afternoon I mixed the dough together, covered it and let it sit tight for 24 hours. Monday afternoon I floured the dough, turned under the edges, then wrapped it in a floured dishtowel and put it back in the bowl. Two hours later I flipped the dough into a Dutch oven (SO BRILLIANT, THAT METHOD), followed the instructions, and 45 minutes later my house smelled like heaven.

It tasted better than anything ever should. Alex just ate buttered bread for supper, in fact. Couldn’t be bothered with anything else.

But the grown-ups kicked the bread up a notch, oh yes we did.

Sunday night I made a batch oven-dried tomatoes and stored them in the refrigerator. These tomatoes are DIVINE and have so much flavor – which is a bit of a wonder considering the state of tomatoes in April. I also made a big pot of homemade black beans (2 cups soaked beans, sauteed onion and garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder and red pepper brought to a boil in 6 cups of water, then simmered for 2 1/2-3 hours – with about half a teaspoon of red wine vinegar added after they’re done).

Well.

Once the bread was ready Monday night, I made a little Feta yogurt sauce (1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1/2 container crumbled Feta, 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh). David and I spread some yogurt sauce on our homemade bread, then topped it with black beans and oven-dried tomatoes.

OH MY WORD THERE ARE NO WORDS.

(And please excuse the shadow of my phone in the picture.)

(Remember, I am a reliably dreadful photographer.)

We absolutely loved the combo of the bread with the other stuff. It was fresh and tasty and crunchy and hearty. We decided to call it International Bruschetta (a little Greek, a little Italian, a little Mexican) – except that it wasn’t really bruschetta because I didn’t toast the bread, but that is merely a technicality. And you could do all sorts of toppings: a favorite cheese, roasted eggplant, roasted garlic, shredded parmesan on top of pesto sauce, a Caprese salad on top of the bread – I could go on and on and on. There was actually a walnut-pepper spread in the magazine that looked delicious, not to mention glazed figs – but I think my people would revolt if I served them either of those options.

Regardless, I still can’t get over how easy it was to make bread in a Dutch oven. I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS POSSIBLE. I think my life is changed forever. In fact, I think this is going to be the spring of eating Homemade Bread With Some Stuff On Top Of It for supper.

And I can’t wait.

Cooking For A Crowd Without Losing Your Ever-Livin’ Mind

I’m not an expert on anything. That’s why you rarely see any how-to posts in this little neck of the bloggy woods. Oh, I could probably score pretty high on some sort of Bravo reality programming quiz, but as you might imagine, the demand for how-to posts on that particular skill is practically nonexistent.

(FINGERS CROSSED, though, that my running mental list of the Real Housewives’ finest moments will come in handy one day. Maybe I’ll get to provide the correct spelling of Bethenny’s name in a heated round of Trivial Pursuit. As Ramona would say, I’d be all over that like white rice.)

(I fear I’ve shared too much.)

(Anyway.)

Weekend before last we went to my hometown to see the family and celebrate my parents’ birthdays. Sister and her hubby were planning to be there, too, and I thought it might be fun to cook a big birthday supper. Without going into all the details of what’s been going on with our extended family over the last few months, I’ll just say that so far 2010 has been a HUMDINGER, and given that, Mama’s and Daddy’s birthdays seemed like a great excuse to get the cousins together and eat and laugh and trust that better days are ahead.

And that is exactly what we did.

I am notorious for wanting to cook 15 different dishes when I’m cooking for company, but I really tempered that tendency for the birthday dinner because 1) I wasn’t cooking at my own house and 2) I tried to do as much as I could ahead of time so that I could actually talk to people and lo, maybe even enjoy myself. And do you know what? The plan worked beautifully.

So here’s what we had for supper. There were probably about 25 people by the time a few latecomers stopped by.

Asian Pork Tenderloin
Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
Party Salad (it doesn’t have a name – it’s just what I throw together when we have company)
Ree’s Rolls (I used dill instead of rosemary)
Pound Cake with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and Fresh Strawberries

And because I did everything in stages, it wasn’t stressful AT ALL.

(Disclaimer: before you read this next part, you should know that I recognize that there was probably a better, more efficient way to pull off the dinner.)

(Perhaps my crippling lack of confidence is yet another reason why I never write how-to posts.)

(Also: I feel like I need to be giving away free chocolate to those of you who have actually stuck around long enough to read this thing.)

(Regardless, here’s my strategy. Though I’m sure there’s a better strategy, and it’s probably yours.)

(PLEASE BRACE YOURSELVES FOR THE SOARING NEW HEIGHTS OF BORING THAT AWAIT YOU IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS.)

Thursday afternoon I made a triple batch of marinade because I was cooking 6 tenderloins (I bought Tyson plain tenderloin 2-packs). I put 2 tenderloins in a gallon Ziploc, then covered with marinade. All three Ziplocs went in the refrigerator. Later that afternoon I made the first of two pound cakes.

Friday afternoon I made another pound cake. Then I made the shrimp and wild rice casserole (5 boxes of wild rice, cooked, 5 cups of freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, 5 cans of cream of mushroom, 5 Tbs. Worcestershire, 2 lbs. of medium frozen shrimp, thawed). I divided the casserole into three Pyrex dishes, covered them, and put them in the refrigerator.

Late Saturday morning I packed everything in coolers – including the frozen roll dough. Sister was already at Mama and Daddy’s, so she went to the grocery store and got all the salad stuff (hearts of romaine, red onion, fresh broccoli, mandarin oranges, almonds and dressing), coffee fixins and ice cream.

Saturday afternoon we made it to Mama and Daddy’s. Two hours before supper, I put the roll dough on cookie sheets and let it rise in a warm oven. Then I chopped up everything for the salad. About 45 minutes before supper – when the roll dough was out of the oven – I cooked the tenderloins (they only take 25-30 minutes). Then I cooked the casseroles, which came out of the oven just as people were starting to arrive. Sister and Paige set out all the china and glasses and whathaveyou.

While everybody visited and watched Kentucky bust my NCAA bracket to pieces, I put the rolls back in the oven.

Once the rolls were ready, everybody served their plates buffet-style, and I sat outside with Sister and Paige and ate supper and visited. Paige helped me fix and serve dessert while Sister started to tackle the kitchen, and I think we made a good team. We actually cooked for a crowd and enjoyed ourselves, too.

WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT.

By the way, here’s the birthday boy and the birthday girl.

And some sweet cousins.

And some of Mama’s daffodils, which really have nothing to do with anything, but they were blooming like crazy that weekend.

So. What about y’all? Any tips or tricks for staying sane when you’re cooking for a crowd? Any reliable, crowd-friendly recipes you’d like to share? Do you break out the paper plates or polish the silver? Do you cook everything yourself, or do you sometimes get a little help from the Colonel or Popeye’s?

Please note: I will always – ALWAYS – support getting a little help from Popeye’s.

OH YES MA’AM I WILL.

That Meat I Cook

This afternoon Alex went to the park with a friend, so I sat down on the couch to write a blog post and promptly fell asleep. FELL ASLEEP. WHILE SITTING ON THE COUCH. I woke up about 40 minutes later after some vivid, technicolor dreams and had no idea where I was or how I got there. But I took advantage of my last few minutes of free time by watching an episode of “Murder, She Wrote” while drinking my prune juice and popping some wheelies in my HoverRound.

Anyway, I cooked supper and cleaned up the kitchen and watched a little election coverage on CNN (remember: I have FoxNews issues. I know many of you think that’s unpatriotic, but in my opinion they need to SIMMER DOWN WITH THE GRAPHICS, and yes, I appreciate the irony of my wanting a news organization to tone it down when I am in fact a person who likes to CAPITALIZE A LOT OF WORDS).

So now I’m back on the computer again so that I can finish what I started before I was overcome with a touch of the narcolepsy this afternoon.

You’re welcome for all that completely unnecessary backstory, by the way.

About six months ago David decided that he didn’t really like chicken anymore. He didn’t make a big proclamation or anything, but I noticed that whenever I’d make anything with chicken in it, he’d sort of load up on side dishes and push the chicken-related main course around his plate. Not to mention that the leftovers would sit in our refrigerator until they grew old and lonely and finally hobbled off the shelf in search of a home where they’d be appreciated and lo, even loved. By diggity.

Well. One day I was making a grocery list, and I decided to find out once and for all what was going on with him and poultry. I asked him what he’d like to eat that week, and he rattled off a list that did not include a single item containing chicken – except for Melanie’s chicken cakes. So I said, “What’s going on with you and chicken? Are y’all on the outs?” And he confessed that he and chicken, they were done. Over. Tarred and – say it with me – FEATHERED.

Now obviously D’s anti-chicken stance had an immediate impact on the menu-planning and cooking around our house. But since I don’t really love chicken unless it’s battered, deep fried and in a box that says POPEYE’S on the side, I realized that I was okay with a chicken hiatus and just needed to figure out more ways to cook beef and pork. On a budget. Without buying steak very much at all ever.

Easy breezy!

At some point I ran across a recipe for flank steak in Cooking Light, and we really liked it, but then our grill quit working and flank steak can be pricey and oh my word am I really devoting this much energy to writing about meat? SWEET MERCY I’M ANCIENT.

Is the HoverRound charged yet? Mamaw here needs to run some errands.

Anyway, here is my current favorite recipe for meat-that’s-not-chicken. It’s London broil. Alex actually calls it “that good meat you cook, Mama,” and whenever I make it he practically claps his hands.

All righty. Cast of characters.

Except that you don’t need the little teacup of Kosher salt. I forgot to move it. But since you have soy sauce for your marinade, you’re well-covered in the salt department. Just FYI.

(See? I haven’t even gotten past the first picture, and I’ve already failed terribly. I don’t know why you people bother with me.)

(By the way: that photograph is STUNNING, isn’t it? Notice how you can’t really read any of the words on the ingredients. Completely intentional on my part. Along with failing to get all the ingredients within the frame of the picture. Artistic license, you understand.)

(And if you think I managed to capture some sort of step-by-step tutorial on how to make this delicious meal, then clearly you are way overestimating my efficiency and follow-through.)

So. Mix together this stuff.

1/3 cup lite soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey (or brown sugar works great, too)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (we like LOTS of pepper, but by all means stay in your pepper comfort zone)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced – I was fresh out of fresh garlic – BADABING!)

Mix well. Reserve a couple of tablespoons that you’ll use later to cook broccoli. Pour over the London broil in a Ziploc bag, then seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Or overnight. Totally your call.

Now go read some blogs or paint your nails or catch up on the DVR while the marinade does its magic.

After meat has marinated, pull it out of the refrigerator and let it rest on the countertop while you make the yogurt sauce:

1 small container plain yogurt
1/4 cup Feta cheese
2 teaspoons dried dill (1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill would work great)
fresh lemon juice to taste
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (if it’s in season – cucumbers didn’t look great at the store yesterday)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl (double the recipe if you’re cooking for more than 4), and you’ll end up with this:

Be still my heart.

Make sure you preheat your oven to 450, then turn on your stove fan and get ready to sizzle.

The London broil I used yesterday was only about a pound and a half, so obviously cooking times will vary a little if yours is bigger or smaller. But using my cast-iron grill skillet, I followed the same basic procedure as Ree’s steak how-to: turn up the heat on the stove to medium high, let the skillet get hot, rub some butter on the skillet, then let that meat get good and seared on both sides.

I probably cooked the London broil two minutes on each side (1 minute, rotate 90 degrees, another minute, flip, 1 minute, rotate, another minute, then sling it in the oven).

Once you put the meat in the oven, let it cook on 450 for about 10 minutes or until it’s done just like you like it (if it’s an extra-thick cut, be careful and check it with a meat thermometer – it will take longer to cook all the way through). Yesterday I wrapped mine in foil after I took it out of the oven so that it would cook a little more without getting dry. Whether you wrap it in foil or not, be sure to let the meat rest about 10 minutes before you slice it.

When you’re ready to eat, slice the meat very thinly across the grain (if you slice with the grain, the meat will be chewy). Ours was a perfect medium – our favorite.

Then I grilled some onions and sauteed some broccoli in those two tablespoons of reserved marinade. We made stuffed pita sandwiches with the meat, broccoli, grilled onions and yogurt sauce, and MY MY MY – so delicious. I also love to do grilled squash for the pitas, but the squash in the store yesterday looked very pale and fragile. So I let them be.

Tonight we used the leftover London broil for fajitas. I grilled more onions, warmed up some tortillas, put some cheese, salsa and sour cream on the table, and we were good to go.

So there you have it. That good meat I cook. It’s versatile, tasty and pretty economical considering that we always get several meals out of it.

Okay. I’m all done now. I think you’ve endured enough at this point.

I’ll be sleeping while sitting straight up in my HoverRound if you need to find me.

Obligatory Snow Post ’10

So, it snowed here today. Sort of. I mean, there were some flakes that fell from the sky, and occasionally they came down fast enough that we looked at them and said, “Oh, that’s pretty,” but in terms of anything that would enable us to make snowballs or snowmen or snow angels or snow creatures of any variety at all – well, um, NO.

But we had such a great day. Alex, our sweet neighbor B. (she’s not just four – she’s four AND A HALF) and I went for a huuuuuge walk, and the two young’uns ran up and rolled down every single hill. We had a blast. It was just one of those times when the gray weather was our friend, and it was hands-down my favorite day of 2010.

(Yes, I know that 2010 is only seven days old, but still. Big fun. I would share pictures except that I didn’t take any because our camera battery was dead. You’ll just have to trust me.)

Now earlier this week I was all set to make a bunch of tailgating food for tonight’s game, but when I started reading through your comments on yesterday’s post, I got a great idea from Gina. She mentioned that she was making sliders, and that immediately struck me as something David would love. So I shifted strategies, went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, cooked everything late this afternoon, and may I just say? The sliders? HUGE BIG GIGANTOR HIT.

I had about a half a bag of frozen rolls leftover from Christmas (I prefer Rhodes, but this was some other kind), and this afternoon I put the rolls on cookie sheets so they could thaw and rise. I seasoned about a pound and a half of ground chuck, and after I mixed it up I made 12 small patties, then covered them and put them back in the refrigerator.

And since I recognize that reading a step-by-step, pictureless rundown of how I made sliders is only slightly more exciting than if I were to read you an instruction manual about food processor assembly, I’ll just cut to the chase and make a list of everything I put out on the counter for slider assemblage.

– sliced rolls
– hamburger patties (adorably small-ish)
– ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard
– Provolone (oh wait – I forgot to put out the Provolone, but I’ll still leave it on the list because it would have been delicious)
– Ranch dressing (made from the little Hidden Valley packet)
– grilled onions (I used 1/2 sweet onion)
– bacon (I cut six slices in half, then fried them)
– sandwich stacker pickles (cut in half)
– salsa (this brand is our current favorite, and MY WORD it’s tasty)
– avocado (I don’t really have anything else to say about the avocado, but I seem to be on a roll with the parenthetical additions, so I thought I’d write something extra in the interest of consistency)

So there was all of that stuff, and then I made homemade French fries (the kind where I put about two inches of oil in a Dutch oven on the stove and then COOK UP SOME SLICED TATERS), and I think it was one of my fellas’ favorite meals ever. D loved being able to fix different kinds of burgers, and I loved that I found a new way to use frozen rolls. Alex loved that we had hamburger patties AND bacon. He’s sort of a fan of meat.

Okay – I need to give the game my full attention. Bama’s up 24-21 with three minutes left, and they just recovered a fumble on UT’s three yard line. So clearly it’s time to do some yelling because remember, I THINK THE PLAYERS INSIDE THE TV CAN HEAR ME.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

And for at least the next three minutes: Roll Tide.

Edited to add: today is the last day to enter the $500 L’Bel Paris giveaway – don’t forget to enter!