Tuesday, January 7, 2014

An Artichoke Object Lesson

Everyone has a different palate. For instance, I don't really have a sweet tooth. Well, I take that back. If you cut sugar, you crave sugar. I started drinking coffee black for the new year (saving me sugar and creamer calories) and by the third day (I drink a lot of coffee) I was craving donuts.

I have an affinity for savory or tangy foods like cheese, olives, pickles, onions, garlic, and artichokes in brine. Those ingredients are heavenly to me. Once, I peeled and prepared a real artichoke, I don't know if I did something wrong, but they were not half as delicious as artichokes in brine (and of course, more work).

A little tangent--for children, artichokes are a great object lesson. One, you can introduce them to a different food that's unique and interesting and two, you can demonstrate how we interact as people. Children will understand the visual illustration of how people have layers--just like artichokes--that can discourage others from seeing the good inside. Do you think the artichoke is prickly, boys and girls? Does it look kind of funny compared to other vegetables? Is it something YOU would want to eat if you saw it growing in your garden? Probably not! But the artichoke, once you take the time to peel back the layers, is a delicious and versatile food that many people enjoy.

Sorry. I see an object lesson in everything. It's what happens when you work with children.

 I had been enjoying the discount Kroger sparkling cider I hoarded upon visiting the store after New Year's Eve with previous dinners. Sparking juice with a little Sprite or Perrier is a substitute fine substitute for wine. However, I indulged this evening with Kendall-Jackson chardonnay (chardonnay is a favorite). This particular chardonnay is a lovely partner to chicken--amicable, and vibrant.

This evening I made another aesthetically impressive meal that doesn't take a lot of time or effort. I cheated a little, and used frozen spinach (which cost all of a dollar and cuts down on prep time), which was really to my advantage, since I was able to make it into a dip later using leftover cream cheese from another recipe. I added wine to the saute, making it even more delicious.


  • 1 can(s) (6-ounce) artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup(s) chopped baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoon(s) chopped roasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoon(s) grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon(s) grated orange zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) Pepper
  • 4 (6 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil


  1. In a small bowl, combine the artichokes, spinach, almonds, Parmesan, orange zest, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Cut a 2-inch pocket in the thickest part of each chicken breast. Stuff a quarter of the artichoke mixture into each breast. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breasts until golden brown and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

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