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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are one of my all-time favorite proteins to cook for a weeknight dinner. They are pretty cheap compared to boneless, skinless chicken breasts (usually half the price) while still being convenient to cook.

I found this recipe almost a year ago and it has quickly moved into regular rotation as one of our Master Meals. I'm pretty sure you can't screw this up. The ingredients are simple and it consistently comes out perfectly tender and crazy flavorful.

I always make this dish in my Lodge cast-iron skillet because it goes straight from the stovetop to the oven easily and because it makes me feel like a legit cook. Serve with rice and a side of roasted veggies (for us practically always green beans or broccoli).

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Thighs
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 limes, juice of
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, chopped; more for garnish
  • Olive oil
Spice mix:
  • 1 tbsp seasoned salt (I use Lawry's)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the spices. Pat the chicken thighs dry, and season each thigh on both sides with the spice mix. Be sure to season underneath the skin as well. Let the chicken thighs sit in room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  3. When ready, heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Brown the chicken thighs deeply on both sides in the heated oil. (Deeply y'all. Put the chicken down and let it be. Don't peek for at least 6-7 minutes. Flip only once it's browned like the picture above.) Remove from the skillet and set aside briefly.
  4. Lower the heat and deglaze the skillet with the white wine. (Deglaze is fancy for: pour in the wine and use a whisk to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.) Let cook to reduce and then add the broth.
  5. Bring the liquid to a simmer then add lime juice and garlic.
  6. Now return the chicken to the skillet; and toss in the cilantro.
  7. Bring to a high-simmer for about 5 minutes or so.
  8. Cover the skillet (foil will do) and transfer to the 375 degree F-heated oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  9. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with more cilantro, if you like.
*Note: I usually only make 5 thighs and half all other quantities in this recipe because only 1 out of my 4 kids will touch it.* 

Enjoy and please let me know what you think if you try it!

Monday, March 21, 2016

5 Steps to a Streamlined Closet

About two years ago I was introduced to the Marie Kondo way of life via her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I became an instant fan and embraced her philosophy of only owning things that "spark joy" with gusto. A few months later I discovered the capsule wardrobe blog Unfancy and was ready to whittle my wardrobe down to the essentials. Last Spring for the first time ever I was ruthless about what I "put out" for the season and it was a game-changer. I pared down my closet to only things that I loved, that fit me well and that weren't redundant. Suddenly I didn't have six button downs, I had one classic white Oxford and one chambray button-down. No more random t-shirt drawer full of freebies I never wore, I pared those down to six that all worked together with the other items I owned. 

This will be my third season of taking the time to evaluate my wardrobe in this way and I actually get so excited about it now. I've found spending half an afternoon at the start of a new season evaluating my clothes saves me a ton of time throughout the season. Setting aside time to think about what I will be wearing in the months ahead means I actually spend very little time thinking about getting dressed each day.

Doing this every six months (in the Spring and Fall) has almost entirely cut out my urge to shop for clothes. I know I like everything in my closet and I know everything fits. I NEVER wander through the women's section of Target anymore, which used to occur on the reg and pretty much always cost me $50.00. Maybe devoting so much thought to something so superficial seems like naval-gazing to you, but for me, it's a totally efficient use of time. So much so that now it's something I make time for. ;)

Here's what the process looks like for me:

1. Pull out, clean, fold and store away any clothes that will not transition into the new season.  
I always have a bag on hand for items that I never ended up wearing (these will go straight to Goodwill) and I'm ruthless about trashing clothing that has rips/stains/doesn't fit anymore or is beyond repair. I want to be thrilled when I open this box up again come Fall and not overwhelmed by a bunch of clothes that don't work for me anymore.

2.  Shake out everything from the storage box and hang or fold and put it in its place. 
If there are items I'm not sure I'll wear this season but don't have the heart to give away - I put them in my bottom dresser drawer. Marie Kondo would not approve, but I tell myself that if they aren't called up for duty during the season I will give them away when it's over. I also organize my hanging and folded clothes from light to dark because I'm neurotic. The folded clothes will not stay like this for long, but they are so pretty to look at right now.

3. Make a list. 
I categorize and write down EVERY CLOTHING ITEM I OWN. Workout gear, PJs and undies don't make the list, but everything else does. Looking at 3 slightly different plaid shirts in my closet doesn't phase me, but when I write down "plaid shirt" "plaid shirt" "plaid shirt" I see the issue more clearly. No More Plaid Shirts Katie.

4. Evaluate the list. 
When I'm making my list, I put a smiley face, a wah-wah face or a frowney face next to each item. (Because I'm sophisticated like that.) The smileys are things I LOVE wearing. They fit well, they make me feel pretty and they're in good repair. Wah-wah items are ones I'd like to replace with something nicer/better quality/better fit when I have the opportunity. Frowney faces are essentials (to me) that just don't work anymore. This season it's my distressed jeans (they got WAY too distressed last week when I bent down to pick up a child...) and my white V neck tee. The tee is a cheapo from Target and it never makes me happy. Every time I put it on, I take it right back off and reach for my grey V neck instead. It needs to go and be replaced by the perfect white V neck.

5. Shop strategically. 
This is the fun part. I make a very specific, targeted list of a few things I need or I'd like to purchase and keep my eyes peeled for those things. It is way easier for me to go shopping for a "short, flowy black dress that can be dressed up or down" than it is to shop for "a new dress." My current shopping list looks like this:
  • White v-neck tee
  • Black "day" dress that could be dressed up with heels for dinner or church
  • White peasant blouse or a white linen shirt, something flow-y and light that can pair with shorts
  • New pair of leopard print Vans (mine have holes in the soles)
  • Lace up flat brown sandals that can look casual with shorts or fancy with a dress
  • Light wash distressed denim jeans in boyfriend or skinny cut. 
Having all of these things would be great, but it probably ain't gonna happen this season. It does help that Christmas and my birthday are on opposite ends of the year, so wardrobe-related gifts help freshen things up without breaking the bank!

So that's my process. My closet feels totally fresh and new and I have a short and highly specific list of items I'm on the hunt for. Your turn to share! Do you switch out your clothes each season? Does Marie Kondo overwhelm you or are you a devotee like me? What's on your must-have for Spring/Summer clothing list?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Can We All Stop Saying This Please?

I spent this past weekend at the SOAR conference talking about mom life with 700 other women, which was enormously fulfilling and encouraging. It also meant I met a lot of new people and had lots of conversations with strangers.

One such conversation was about 2 minutes long and managed to get me thinking for the rest of the day. A friend and I were talking about the blogs we enjoy when a friend of hers (who didn't know me) walked up. She heard about 30 seconds of our conversation before declaring, "oh I don't have time for all of that..." and walking off. 

I'm sure she said it without thinking, just an offhand remark, never intending to insult me or suspecting I would take it personally, but she stopped me in my tracks. 

Because here's the thing: I don't have time for all of this either. 

I don't have time to read 50 books a year. I don't have time to work out, or sew, or volunteer, or cook from scratch, or any other one of a dozen things I could list. 

No one has time for insert the thing you don't have time for here

But we do all get 24 hours a day. I haven't yet met a human who has an extra special hour to devote to their personal interests. So you see, everyone has time for insert the thing you don't have time for here. 

make the time to write. I make the time to read. And I bet you make the time to do many things that I might be tempted to dismiss with an offhand remark of my own. 

If we think the choices of others are frivolous or beneath us (which is what we actually communicate with the comment "I don't have time for that") then let us recognize that is in fact what we are saying.

But let's not convince ourselves we don't have time for that. We all have the same 24 hours a day. We get to choose how we spend our days and fill our lives, you have no less time than me. 

What is it you think you don't have time for? 

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