Perfect Roast Chicken Breasts

roast chicken

We eat a lot of chicken for dinner.  The kids have started saying exactly what I used to say to my mom, “Chicken again?!?  We always have chicken!”

But this roasted, bone-in chicken makes everyone happy.  My mom and sisters have been begging for my “recipe.”  I hardly consider it a recipe, it’s more like my “method.”

The other day when bone-in chicken breasts were on sale, I bought several to keep and freeze.  While I was making dinner, I wrote down what I did and now it is here to share 🙂

Note: I cook 2-4 (depending on their size) for dinner for a family of 4, but I also cook extra (2-4) because the juicy white meat is so good to have on hand in the refrigerator.  It makes the best chicken salad, chicken noodle soup, chicken enchiladas, or even plain- just added to your salad the next day.

Do NOT remove the skin prior to cooking.  The skin and the bones are what ensure juicy, white meat.  After cooking, I peel off the cooked skin and toss it… unless my parents are visiting… then my dad gets ONE.  I know it’s bad, but he just loves it so…

Perfect Roast Chicken Breasts

Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Breasts

Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Pepper

Brush tops and bottoms with olive oil and then season both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Spread breasts out on rimmed cookie sheet; don’t crowd them.  Bake skin side up at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (smaller size) or 55 minutes (larger size).

Remove from oven and immediately cover with foil.  Let rest, covered for 10 minutes.

Now, and only now can you cut into the center of the largest piece and ensure they are cooked thoroughly, Mom 🙂

Vatican City

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My daughter and I just returned from her school trip to ITALY!  I had never been but always wanted to go so I was possibly more excited than she was!

One of my favorite places was Vatican City.  Probably because I’m Catholic.  I could not help but see everything through my father’s eyes.  While I wax and wane about my “church-organized” religious beliefs, he does not seem to.  I had tears in my eyes many times imagining what he would be feeling.  I hope he visits the Vatican someday.

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Throughout Italy I found myself taking photos of the brick laying patterns.  Most of the bricks I saw were this longer, flat shape.

We arrived to the walled city in the morning and we were told that visitors who aren’t part of a group must wait in line and that it wraps around the whole city. This was one place our tour guide was very clear that we were to stay together because there is only one correct way in and out.  He mildly joked that the other way out would be to jail.  Not funny:)

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the Vatican wall

As you enter, you are herded through the Vatican Museums.  They are all very intricate and beautiful. One of my favorites featured this long “hall” where the barrel vault ceiling was a work of art.

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On either side walls, there were painted maps.  These were done before aerial shots and surveying… amazing.  I loved the greens and cobalt blues.

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There were also very old tapestries.

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From here we were led out to one of the pretty courtyard gardens.  These were built to allow green space and quiet reflection for the Popes.

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Here our tour guide used one of several informational stands highlighting the important details of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  This was helpful because you are not allowed to talk or take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel because it is a holy space. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, and most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. I enjoyed being reminded why the frescos are so famous.

The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected.

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I’m a rule follower… not my photo

The last guided spot was St. Peter’s Basilica.

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It was surreal to stand in front of St. Peter’s Basilica with my daughter where I have seen the Pope speak so many times.

It was breathtaking.  I love buildings and architecture so naturally I was overcome and amazed by the beauty I saw.  The amount of intricate detail was overwhelming.  I tried to imagine the tradesmen doing their work in the 1500s  but the sheer vastness of the detail was more than I could wrap my brain around.  My eyes could not rest.  Everywhere you look there are more domes with ceiling treatments, more columns, more mosaics… and the gold!  It was truly beautiful.

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the Holy Doors

I am Catholic so I was invited to walk through the Holy Doors which are only open every 25 years during Holy Years.  The Pope is allowed to declare additional years Holy Years and Pope Francis did that for 2016.  On one hand, it is simply walking through a separate doorway.  But for me, I felt overcome by emotion… it kind of felt like my chest/heart was lifted up to my head-level.  One of my dad’s aunts (who is now deceased) was a nun and I definitely thought a lot about her while I was here.

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St. Peter’s Basilica

We live near Jamestown and the early settlements of America beginning in 1608.  St. Peter’s Basilica began construction in 1506 and opened in 1626.  The difference in ornateness is staggering.

Afterwards we were left time for lunch and time to do some shopping.  So of course I bought my whole family (and any Catholic friends) Rosary beads.  You could have them blessed and delivered to your hotel.

Most days we grabbed a prosciutto, cheese, and basil sandwich but this day I went with a bulgar wheat salad and it was so tasty!  The kids had gelato for dessert every. single. day:)

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What a special place.  I felt so much emotion here.  And I am so excited about the current Pope Francis.  Next stop Rome!

Screened Porch Ideas

Our backyard is slowly but surely getting some love.  Right now I am looking for some screened in porch inspiration.  How lovely would it be to sit outside with a bug-free breeze!  If we end up building one, I would like to have space for an eating table and chairs as well as plenty of comfortable space for sitting and hanging out.

I have saved these photos in a file for years and unfortunately don’t know where any (except the Southern Living ones) came from.  So pretty!

I love to compile inspiration photos to clarify what I like, what I am drawn to.  Looking at all my favorite photos, I do see some similarities: double doors, fireplace, squared-off roman columns, ceiling fans, and built-in sconces.

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here… kitty, kitty 🙂  All *kitting* aside, though, these short walls at the base of the screens would help protect from our pets scratching the screens.

 

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These 3 photos came from one of my favorite Southern Living articles I’ll post about later.

 

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Calm Sea Salt Family Room

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I’ve done a few inspiration boards for clients and thought I’d share this one of mine! Sometimes I have the hardest time picking things for my own house so it has really helped to pull several pieces together in one place.

Our front family room is large and has the gas log fireplace so we find ourselves gathering in here most of the time, especially in the winter. When we moved in we painted all the woodwork BM White Dove and the walls SW Sea Salt. We bought custom-cut, fairly inexpensive seagrass rugs for almost all the main level rooms. While I love the look of seagrass, it is not very comfortable to sit on and our particular rugs show pretty much everything 😦 Thank goodness they are natural tan! But I think the time has come for me to look for a more patterned Oushak oriental rug. They are pricey so I will share as I go about my search. I want it to be pretty but also hide wear well. This will be tricky because I naturally gravitate towards the lighter colors…

This big sectional is a necessity for us in this stage of life 🙂 I fought it long and hard but I have to say that I have no regrets now. It is fugly but hard-wearing microfiber and this family (including both dogs) loves to cuddle up and watch movies on it. I love the look of linen sofas but linen will just have to do for pillows now. I cannot imagine having to worry about kids and dogs and light colored linen.

I have also tried white/light slipcovered furniture and I also do not recommend it to my clients if they will get much wear because while yes, you can take the cover off and wash/bleach it, who EVER wants to deal with all that heavy, cumbersome fabric? So, for pets and kids, medium colors and hard-wearing fabrics are the way to maintain sanity.

I already have the silk drapes, lamps & french chest of drawers. Hoping this will motivate me to get started!

Favorite Hershey Chocolate Cake

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This past Christmas we were visiting my family at Smith Mountain Lake and my grandmother brought this very delicious chocolate cake.  The minute I tried it, it took me back to my childhood.  It’s like one of those simple, non-showy, tried and true desserts that we ate as kids – nothing fancy.

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There is just nothing like bringing out a whole cake for dessert!  It makes any occasion special.

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Candles from Everyday Occasions make every cake look so special!

But cakes can be quite time-consuming if you have to bake multiple layers and make your own icing (not hard, but definitely messy), not to mention the finesse it takes to ice a layer cake!  Well this one is meant to be a sheet cake (read:easy) as opposed to stacked layers.  I usually make it in a round pan.  And the icing really makes it.  It is just the slightest bit “grainy” from the sugar.  Kind of like your grandmother’s fudge.  It is so easy to ice because you just pour it over the not-yet-cooled cake so the cake and the icing come together to make the perfect bite. It is also a great dessert to deliver to new moms (and potlucks) because it can be baked in any shape/size foil disposable pans, so it travels well and she won’t have to return any dishes 🙂

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It truly has become my new favorite chocolate dessert.  For some reason, starting with Adam’s birthday after the holidays, we got into the rhythm of having 2-3 couples over for dinner each Saturday.  Every Saturday I made practically the same menu!  Adam’s favorite: Beef Tenderloin, Salad, and some version of potato (baked, mashed, scalloped).  And each time I was asked for the cake recipe.  Enjoy!

HERSHEY CHOCOLATE CAKE

1⁄2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 (16 ounce) can hershey chocolate syrup

ICING

1⁄2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup evaporated milk or regular milk
1⁄2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

For cake: Cream butter and sugar; then add eggs one at a time and beat well, after each.
Sift dry ingredients and add to above mixture.
Add syrup and mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes in 13×9 inch pan.
Do not over bake. After cake is baked, immediately prepare icing because you will ice cake while hot.

For icing: Boil butter, milk and sugar together for two to three minutes.
Add chocolate chips, beat until smooth.
Pour on cake.

Enjoy!!