You know how one little ingredient can inspire a whole meal?
That is what happened this weekend with my apartment. Zach brought me beautiful white roses on Friday before we went to get yummy Greek food and see The Social Network. The movie was followed by curling up on the couch with "puppy" to watch the latest episode of "The Jersey Shore" (so good!). It was just my ideal version of a quiet Friday night...except for one thing...
I love love love having fresh flowers in the house. However, I almost NEVER buy them because I refuse to have beautiful flowers in the middle of a messy apartment. I guess this is me admitting that I don't always keep the tidiest place. I try. I really do. But with work and cooking and the dog shedding it is really overwhelming to keep up. It feels like once I do one thing, there is another tedious task that pops up in it's place...like the apartment is never clean all at once. So Friday night as I sat on the living room couch, I kept looking over to the flowers on the table and feeling like the crisp, clean, white flowers just seemed out of place.
These things usually work out for the best eh? The flowers inspired me to spiff up the entire apartment around them. And by "spiff up" I mean clean for about 6 hours total (between Saturday and Sunday). It is such a drag when you plan to clean so I kind of preferred the pressure the flowers suddenly put on me.
I thought now is a better time than ever to show you some pics of the place. I have been waiting for a good time to take good pictures now that I am pretty satisfied (with a couple exceptions) with how it is all set up. I took some pictures right after the move with the intention of doing "before" and "after" shots. So at the risk of including way too many "before" and "after" shots on this blog, here we are:
LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM BEFORE:
LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM AFTER:
Bedroom before and after pics were part of a previous post.
Not only was an entire apartment cleaning inspired by some simple flowers, but this recipe was inspired by my need to use a single ingredient: apples, of course. I hope you have not forgotten that I went apple picking a little over a week ago, and I have spent the better part of my mealtime eating apples or some variation of apple dishes.
I decided on some sort of apple and chicken recipe. After a quick search on the internet, I came across a delicious-looking recipe for "Apple and Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast". This may have everything to do with the fact that her new husband's name is Zach, but the blogger's style reminded me of my own. You can check out her blog, "Newlywed in New Orleans" or specifically the post for this recipe here.
Apple and Brie Stuffed Chicken
(ever so very slightly adapted recipe from Newlywed in New Orleans - makes 4 servings)
EVOO for pan
1/2 C chopped sweet onion
1 tart apple, cored, chopped in about 1/2 inch cubes (I used Macintosh because that is what I had!...the recipe calls for Ganny Smith)
1/2 tsp rosemary (original recipe calls for thyme...I didn't have any, but the rosemary worked well! I imagine sage might be nice too.)
3/4 C apple cider
4 oz Brie, without rind, cut in small chunks
4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add onion, and cook until tender (about 5 minutes)
Add apple, thyme, salt, pepper and cider and cook until apples are tender (another 5 minutes
Turn to low heat and add the brie, mixing until blended (I added the brie separate from the apple mixture because I made the apple mixture ahead in the morning. I actually cut the brie into strips to add to the middle of each chicken breast with the apple mixture.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut a large pocket into each chicken breast, and put a quarter of the stuffing into each breast. (I like to weave a long turkey pin through the open side of the chicken to keep it tightly sealed)
Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken
Place large skillet over med-high heat, and brown the meat on either side (about 1 minute on each side.
Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes (more or less depending on the size) or until the juices run clear.
I served this up with mashed potatoes made from the leftovers of my Syracuse Salt Potatoes. Very satisfying!
NOTE: The leftover chicken breasts would be an amazing protein addition to a nice, nutty Waldorf salad. I don't know...something like this perhaps: