19 December 2011

Giving Experiences (Plus a Great Recipe!)

Benny is four yeas old and had not experienced a Christmas light show until last night. There's really no excuse - lots of places in and around Denver have light shows for the holidays. We did try to go to Zoo Lights two years ago, but the line of cars was so long that we opted for Thai food instead. Benny was none the wiser. However, he's such a fan of lights that we really should have humored him before now.

We decided to skip the crowds at the zoo this year and experience the lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens. We became members this summer and I haven't regretted it yet. I love the gardens. We've visited as a family three times already and we took advantage of our free tickets to the harvest festival around Halloween. We invited Benny's friend Toby and his family to join us. It was a magical night - the reason for the season, without the whole Christ part! (Can you tell from Benny's enormous smile in both photos? He told me, "Mom, I really love this!" as we walked through the gardens.)

And then we made this great Coq au Vin recipe courtesy of the Whole Foods recipe website.

We served the dish with sour dough bread, simple French salad (I will write about this amazing side some day), and noodles coated in olive oil. It was a delicious, if fast, feast! We had to chow down in order to get the kids to bed at a decent time!

This is blatant plagarism:

Chicken in Wine (Coq au Vin) 


8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon, roughly chopped*
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil, divided*
1 (12-ounce) package white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth*
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 large sprigs thyme


Arrange chicken on a large sheet of waxed paper. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly coat chicken all over with flour and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden and just crisp, 3 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Discard drippings and wipe out skillet. Melt 2 tablespoons butter (or heat oil, if using) in same skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a large plate as done and set aside.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter or oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms and cook until edges begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots, onions, garlic and salt and cook until vegetables just begin to soften. Transfer vegetables and broth to crock pot. Arrange chicken on top. Sprinkle bacon over chicken. Add wine and thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

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