Breaking through writer’s block with an ungodly amount of garlic.

Originally posted July 2012.

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It always bothers me when I post a recipe I found from some other chef/food blogger’s website (though clearly, not enough to refrain from doing so) because I feel so…un-innovative. I feel like really, all I’m doing is successfully duplicating something that’s already been done. I usually try to tweak things, or take a component from one recipe I’ve found and incorporate it into something else. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, because really, I’m not trying to cash in on anyone else’s successes or claim them as my own. I maintain this website because it’s my own little way of dealing with writer’s block. It’s cathartic, in a way, to be able to come home after a frustrating day and chill out (or swelter, these days) in the kitchen, listen to some good music, take some mediocre pictures and put it all into words.

For years now, I’ve been dealing with seemingly insurmountable writer’s block…or rather, not dealing with it, unless you count staring at a blank notebook saying “well, that idea sucked” then rolling over and going to sleep as dealing with it. I’ve more or less been a writing machine since I decided to pursue a lit degree (and probable cardboard box dwelling) in 2005, but there is a colossal difference between writing for work/school and writing because youlove it and not doing it simply is not an option. I can churn out news and feature articles like it’s my job (because, well, it sort of is), but when it comes to writing for myself? It just doesn’t happen anymore. At least, not like it used to. I can’t necessarily lock myself in my room for days like I did when I was a teenager, emerging with some poem or short story or chapter of a yet-to-be-completed novel, but I can sit at my kitchen table and write about my adventures in the kitchen. That’s really what I’m here for.

So um…on that note, I made chicken! Hooray!

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And the recipe, while tremendously simple, is one that’s all mine. Kinda. The marinade is actually a dressing my parents make for dipping artichoke leaves and hearts — a simple garlicky dijon vinaigrette. It’s really just a textbook simple-healthy-weeknight meal, and while it may not be particularly awe-inducing, it’s something we all need. 

Marinated grilled chicken & veggies
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3/4 head of garlic, peeled & minced
salt & pepper
zucchini
grape tomatoes
4 baby red potatoes
green beans 

To make the marinade:

Either mince your garlic by hand or take the easy way out and throw them in a food processor. Mix olive oil, vinegar, garlic, dijon, salt and pepper with a fork or whisk until totally blended.

Pour 3/4 of the mixture into a ziploc bag with your chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Heat either a George Foreman grill, regular grill or regular ol’ pan on the stovetop and cook your chicken for about 5 minutes per side.

Preheat the oven to about 375F. 

Cut your potatoes into cubes and boil for about 10-15 minutes, until slightly softened, but not yet mashed-potato-ready. Toss your zucchini, tomatoes, green beans and potatoes in the remaining 1/4 of marinade, then spread over a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for about 7 minutes.

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By the way, when I’m cooking, this is where Sam decides he wants to be. Normally, he’s sprawled out in front of an air conditioner or a fan, or gnawing on one of his toys (or the wall!) by his food bowl. But when I’m cooking, he needs to be right in front of the source of heat. In July. Usually while also on my feet.

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…you know what? It’s fine. Totally fine. Sit wherever you want, o adorable one.

Clearly, this can be tweaked or modified in any number of ways. While I served this dish with homemade garlic bread (yes, I know — this is a whole freaking lot of garlic), I think cubing that bread and making the veggies into a panzanella would make a pretty nice summer dish. You could throw these vegetables and some grated parmesan or pecorino romano on top of some spaghetti, making yourself a healthy and colorful little bowl. The marinade would go well with pork chops, or maybe even fish. All of this would go AMAZINGLY on a grill. And if all else fails, well, it’s a tried-and-true dip for steamed artichokes.

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Happy eating!

2013 addendum: In response to this post, my lovely, lovely friend Stef bought me a book with tips for dealing with writer’s block that deal with considerably less garlic.

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5 thoughts on “Breaking through writer’s block with an ungodly amount of garlic.

    • Haha, thanks! It’s definitely wonderful if you’re a garlic fan. And that’s definitely Sam’s “please-don’t-be-mad-at-me-for-chewing-your-stuff” face, so he’s lucky he’s adorable. =)

  1. Pingback: Spicy soups make winter tolerable. | tuppershare

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