A few weeks ago, Hubs and I spent a Sunday afternoon tearing out the decking for our old house front porch. The porch has been sagging forever and featured prominently on our to-do list for several years. However, as usual, the farm had been eating up every one of Hubs' spare minutes. I was excited that he had finally found time that day, and eagerly loaded the sections of rotting, old flooring into the back of the pickup as Hubs cut them out. It soon became apparent that this wasn't just a quick job. Under the porch, framing and supports were also rotten or non-existent. Basically, my rocking chairs might as well have been held up by butterfly wings. Fixing the porch correctly would be a big job.
As (bad) luck would have it, the temperatures decided to soar that first week of porch renovation. A heat index of at least 110 degrees was the norm. It was miserable in the sweltering heat, but I tried to help the best I could with the project. This is when one of my biggest fears reared its ugly head --my fear of heights.
Don't laugh. I know that it doesn't seem like replacing my porch floor should have anything to do with feeling all wobbly and jittery, but it did. Hubs glided back and forth over the exposed joists like a gymnast on a balance beam. I, on the other hand, was paralyzed with fear even though I was only 3 feet off the ground. I was chicken. Bwuck. Bwuck. Bwuck.
This chicken lunged from one point to another grasping whatever I could to hold on. I should be glad that I had control of the camera to document this renovation project, and there are no shots of me with fear in my eyes (or shots of me with hurt and anger in my eyes...but that is another story). I was a chicken, but I did what I could to keep the project moving. Ultimately, a beautifully solid floor is in place, has been sanded, and has one coat of stain. I am waiting for the humidity to allow the stain to dry enough for another coat...and praying that the painter dude shows up soon to finish the (overdue since last year's hail storm) repainting of the rest of the house. This chicken felt the heat and (kinda) rose to the occasion.
Chicken that also feels a little heat and more than rises to almost any occasion is Chipotle Chicken with Creamed Spinach. This smokey chicken dish is originally from Rick Bayless and has the perfect amount of heat. It is special enough to be a "for company" dish, but easy enough to grace a weeknight table. We love serving it with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce, and leftovers are fabulous for lunch the next day. I am not chicken to have Chipotle Chicken with Creamed Spinach On My Plate.
(adapted from Rick Bayless)
3 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 medium boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup chicken stock
10-12 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine the chopped canned chipotles with 1/2 cup of the cream in a Ziplock bag.
Add the chicken breasts to the bag, seal and refrigerate for several hours. (The longer you marinate, the more the chiles season the chicken.)
After marinating, preheat the broiler.
Arrange the chicken breasts in a baking dish just large enough to hold them comfortably.
Set 6 inches below a very hot broiler and cook until richly brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
Turn the chicken over, drizzle the remaining cream around them and return to the broiler.
Cook until the chicken is deep golden and no longer squishy feeling when lightly pressed, 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to 4 warm dinner plates and keep warm in a low oven.
Scrape the cream mixture into a large saucepan and add the broth and the spinach.
Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the spinach is wilted and the cream is reduced and thick, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt, then spoon around the chicken breasts to serve.