Freezing HVAC units and Citrus Chicken…

I am freezing but wiser.

You see, last night, we shot the very first installment of the Domestic Badass video blog. Everything went pretty smoothly, especially since this was our first go, which was nice. Gary really brought it-3 cameras, and about a zillion lights.  Now, the extra lighting was great, because, as all of us non-goddesses know, good lighting covers a multitude of flaws and actually can fool people (and, sometimes ourselves) into thinking we are better looking than we actually are.  But lights not only generate wonderful, wrinkle-erasing, face-loving light, they also generate heat.

Lots of it.

So even though it was 30 degrees last night, between the lights and the oven/stovetop it was about 107 degrees in the house. Opening the front and back door did create a lovely cross-breeze, but when the latest crop of stray cats started copulating in the backyard, we decided that perhaps the air conditioner would be a better choice to cool the hell the house had become. And it did! We finished up the shoot and dinner (it was delicious, by the way) and basically collapsed into bed (it was around midnight by the time cleanup was finished).  Unfortunately, we forgot to shut off the AC…

Fast forward to this morning….

It was so cold this morning, that getting out of bed was a chore. Neither of us really gave it a second thought, since we never crank the heat up at night anyway (hard to sleep when it’s too hot).  Gary beat me downstairs to make his morning pot of “Go-Juice”, and when I entered the kitchen a few minutes later, I see my poor husband, hugging himself and rubbing his arms briskly in front of two lit burners on the stove.  I looked at him with a confused look and said: “What the heck are you doing?”  To which he replied: “Trying to get warm. I’m freakin’ freezing!”  “So turn the heat up”, I said cheerfully. He just stood there, shivering and shaking his head. “The unit is frozen.”   “What? Why?…” I started to stammer, and then it hit me…”Ohhhh, no…The air conditioner…” I whispered. Gary continued to shiver and rub his arms but by this time had added a little rocking dance-like action to the rest of the choreography. “Yep. And I have no idea when it will defrost since it’s 30 outside.”  Poor, kid. I think the only thing that was keeping him going was the thought of the nice hot pot of coffee brewing 4 feet away.

So we bundled up, took the dogs out, came back in and while Gary tried to thaw out in the shower, I cooked his favorite “Egg-A-Muffin” breakfast sammie.  It’s super easy and you only need one pan:

*Melt a little butter in a flat griddle pan over medium high heat (yes, you can use a frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan)

*Split an english muffin and toss it on the pan

*Take a pre-cooked turkey sausage patty  and toss it in the pan (or whatever breakfast meat you like-the pre-cooked stuff is great because it cuts the cooking time in half, so you can have a great breakfast, even if you are in a rush)

*Crack one egg in the same pan, cook for about 1 minute, then flip. Cook on the other side until desired doneness (40 seconds will give you a nice, juicy yolk, longer will set the yolk)

To assemble, take 1/2 of the muffin, top with 1/2 slice of baby swiss cheese (or whatever cheese you like) , then put the egg on (salt and pepper to taste), followed by the sausage patty, the other piece of cheese and top with the other muffin half.

So, now Gary was warm and happier and off to work. About two minutes ago, as I was typing this entry and started chuckling, thinking about how cute Gary looked waiting for his hot cup of coffee, I stopped and looked at the coffee pot.  Poor kid completely forgot about his coffee.

There are a few things to be learned from this story.

1-Never, ever turn your AC unit on when the temperature is below 60 degrees, no matter how hot your kitchen gets.

2-If you do happen to turn the AC on during a cold snap and forget to turn it off, write the important stuff down (like drink your coffee) or risk losing the thought to an acute case of brain freeze.

3-Use caution when eating a breakfast “Egg-A-Muffin”-you may become so giddy with it’s deliciousness, that important stuff (like drinking your coffee) may be erased from your short term memory.

‘Nuff said.

OK, so on to last night’s dinner!

Here’s the skinny on creating a yummy meal on the cheap!  The recipe for this chicken dish was inspired by a recipe I found in Food and Wine magazine. I changed it up a bit to make it simpler and more economical (I used chicken legs, which are really inexpensive) and also to give it a touch of extra flavor by marinating the chicken before pan searing it. The chicken is pan seared first, then finished in the oven with the sauce, which keeps it moist and juicy and delicately flavored with an array of citrus fruits. The roasted garlic potatoes are a great side dish that compliment the sweetness of the sauce with the savory flavors of garlic and sea salt. Great with a green salad, and nice crusty bread.  For dessert, Sauteed Pears in Caramel Sauce with Spiced Pecan Topping.The best part about this dinner is that  feeds  5 for under 15 bucks! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Pan Seared Citrus Chicken

To marinate the chicken:

10 chicken legs (about 4 lbs)

1/2 TBS sea salt

1.5 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2/3 cup orange juice

Combine all ingredients with chicken in a large, non-metal bowl and let it marinate for 15 minutes (you can marinate this overnight, too, if you like)

For the sauce:

1 grapefruit

1 large lime

2 naval oranges

2 clementines

1-16oz. can of low sodium, MSG free chicken stock

1 tsp salt

1/2 minced garlic

2/3 cup Chardonnay

Using a sharp knife, cut off the ends of the grapefruit, then cut away the skin, making sure to cut the white part of the rind off as well. Working over a medium sized non-reactive bowl (you want to catch all the juice) take a paring knife and carefully cut between the skin of each section of grapefruit so you can remove just the section, leaving the skin.  When all sections have been removed, squeeze the “skeleton” that’s left to get all of the juice out.  Repeat with the lime, oranges and clementines.   Set aside.

Ok, the rest of the ingredients for the sauce are added to the pan after the chicken is seared, so let’s go ahead and sear that chicken!

But first, a little prep….Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large sauté pan, heat up 1-2 TBS of olive oil on medium high/high heat. When oil is hot, carefully add the chicken legs (discard the marinade), one at a time. Let the chicken cook for 2-3 minutes then, using tongs, turn each piece, and cook 2-3 minutes more, so that the chicken is golden brown all the way around.  Remove chicken from pan and transfer to an oven safe baking dish.

Ok, now for that sauce.

First prep by putting a sieve strainer or small holed colander over a large non metal bowl.

To the sauté pan, add the wine to de-glaze (this will loosen up all that good stuff that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan and give your sauce lots of flavor).

Cook on high heat for about 1minute.  Next add the chicken stock, salt, garlic and the reserved citrus sections and juice. Cook on high for about 5 minutes to reduce liquid.  Remove sauce from heat and pour into sieve or colander to strain. Pour strained liquid over chicken and place in the oven, uncovered for 30 minutes or until juices run clear when poked.

Garnish with fresh citrus slices and enjoy!

That’s it. Pretty simple, right?  The beauty of this dish is that it tastes like something that you’ve slaved over a hot stove to prepare, but in reality, it’s super easy and very inexpensive, especially if you use chicken legs. Now, if you prefer chicken breast, go ahead and use that, but your searing cooking time will be longer (I’d bump the pan sear time to 4-5 minutes and the baking time to about 45 minutes)

Of course, you don’t have to tell anyone how easy and cheap dinner was. On the contrary, I’d play up the “Oh-I-spent-all-day-in-the-kitchen-preparing-you-a-gourmet-meal” card.  Hey, I’m not telling.

At the very least, you’re guaranteed to:

1-Not have to clean up the dishes.


2-Not have to take the garbage out.

Who knows, you might even get flowers or a maybe even a massage or foot rub.  And remember, never underestimate the power of a good meal and a convincing performance…

Have fun and be fearless!



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