Thursday, March 22, 2012

When Writing Interferes with Cooking

Sometimes, the writing life really interferes with kitchen life. Last week, my debut book, Pretty Crooked, was released into the world. As I should have predicted, my entire routine went to crap. I spent many hours online, doing social networking, talking up contests and answering email, obsessing about various book-related details, writing up blog posts and preparing for my launch party. In the meantime, I could not go to the gym. I could not get anything practical or household-y done. Worst of all, as far as I'm concerned, I could not cook.

When this week started, I was determined to get back on track and restore some sense of normalcy in my household. I craved home-cooked nourishment. I needed routine and simple food. And yet, I was still pretty fatigued, both emotionally and physically, from the release experience.

Last night, as the dinner hour drew near, I made a deal with myself: If I only agreed to cook, I was allowed to use the easiest recipes in my arsenal. So I broke out an old favorite from Epicurious, Spiced Roast Chicken Breasts. This little number takes little forethought, no knife skills and can be thrown together in minutes. Even better, the technique guarantees an excellent result every time. I served it with some asparagus and mashed squash and I was good to go. I could even envision a time when I might tackle something a bit more challenging. But for now: baby steps.

Spiced Roast Chicken Breasts
Serves 2

2 chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 450°F. Pat chicken dry. Stir together spices, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and rub evenly all over chicken.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in an ovenproof heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes.

Transfer skillet to middle of oven and roast chicken, skin side up, until just cooked through, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add water to pan and deglaze over high heat, scraping up brown bits.

Pour pan juices over chicken.


  1. Eliza, that looks and sounds yummy! Thanks! :)

  2. I love how simple the recipe is, especially how the pan goes right into the oven. It looks awesome too. I might just have to try this to find out for myself how good it tastes. Thanks!

  3. Congratulations on the release, Elisa! And, yeah, the center of the universe shifts a bit in the days and weeks following a book birth. :)

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  5. Your no brainer dinner would be my, omg-i've-never-been-so-impressed-with-myself masterpiece! #sadbuttrue