This is Eli

A blog about Eli. A blog about survival – and by that, I mean life!

We canceled cable and have resorted to spying on our neighbors for entertainment.

Laila is rather good at it, though somewhat obvious.



She reported that our bald lady Cardinal is back in the yard with her boyfriend. Our across-the-street neighbors were reportedly bouncing on Pogo sticks. I’d call that observation dubious.

Here are her observations:

In other news, I made dinner.

Dinner is a challenge. I work a varied schedule and often miss it, so Mark is left to feed two kids and put ’em to bed most days of the week. It’s not ideal but this is how we make our schedules work right now.

I’ve been working more than usual as of late and haven’t had time to cook. I missed drinking wine while cooking so, so much. I got excited about the opportunity and, to mark the occasion, made a new house rule.

I put up the baby gate to block my little people from getting underfoot, and also, my husband. I poured a glass of wine. Don’t get me wrong — I love my husband. He makes me laugh. He has cool hair. I like his take on the world. He is my best friend on this earth. Just not while I’m cooking, ’cause he’s probably five inches away from my face trying to see what I’m doing. I think this problem was addressed in a popular New York Times column once by a woman who learned to train her husband by going to Shamu school. Brilliant!

He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I’m trying to concentrate on the simmering pans.

Her solution was to put a bowl of food somewhere – far away.

I would have tried a chip bowl, but I ran that experiment on him before. So, like, the third or tenth time he figured it all out and busted me, like, “I’m not hovering!”

I just put up a baby gate and declared a new rule.

Anyway, my point is, I was all excited about this new husband – repellent technique, and I put a pot on the stove with various ingredients. I set the timer to 8 minutes for the pasta portion of the meal, and I rang my sister to tell her about the husband lock-out and the recipe. The recipe was a modification from our favorite cookbook, The Mom 100.

Funny that it’s called, I remarked, that because Mark does most cooking because of my work schedule. And have you ever noticed most of the recipes are just giant? I had to halve this one. It’s the One Pot Arroz Con Pollo. BTW I baby-gated Mark out of the kitchen…

Oh @#$^ the pasta’s burning!

Who burns pasta?

That’s why I don’t cook much. I will say that my take on One Pot Arroz Con Pollo turned out tasty, even as I *crisped* the orzo and lacked key ingredients, like saffron – who has saffron?

I’m a believer of recipe experimentation. It ends badly half the time, but, at least I give it a go.
The recipe from the Mom 100 book is probably a lot tastier, but requires ingredients I didn’t have around, namely, Kielbasa and 3 pounds of chicken thighs. I used 1.5 packages of Archer farms flavored chicken sausages and a Polenta roll instead. I lacked carrots and a red pepper, so I used more frozen veggies than the recipe required. It had a nice flavor, though I just used salt and pepper.

1.5 packages flavored chicken sausages (Archer Farms Target is affordable and tasty), chopped into kid-friendly pieces
Polenta roll, sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 cups short grain rice or orzo
1 can (14 oz.) diced or crushed tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1 cup mixed veggies


Cut the sausages into kid-friendly chunks and slice the Polenta roll into about 1/2-inch slices.

Heat a very large skillet with lid with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, Polenta, garlic and as much chicken as will fit in the pan without crowding. I like to heat things up until sausages and polenta look nice and pan-fried and onions are soft.

Heat the remaining of olive oil and the butter in the skillet over medium heat.

Add the rice or orzo and stir until the rice starts to turn slightly translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the water (or chicken broth if it’s on hand), salt and pepper. Stir well. Cover the skillet, increase the heat to medium-high, let the liquid come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer until the rice/orzo has begun to absorb the liquid, about 8 minutes.

Cover the skillet again and let simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender, and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 12-15 minutes. In the last 2-3 minutes, add frozen veggies and let ’em simmer until heated through.

To make this healthy for me, I had a cup or so over a bed of spinach.

I topped Mark, Laila and Eli’s servings with cheese. And, on Eli’s, I added butter and heavy whipping cream.

We managed a nice week day dinner together that Mommy cooked and no one complained about. Miracles do happen!

A miracle

A miracle

Spying, better n cable

Spying, better n cable


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