paprika chicken in white wine butter thyme sauce

Is there anything better than the smell of white wine, butter, and garlic in a hot pan?

Nah.

butter thyme chicken

Last night we cooked up some delicious Paprika Chicken & Spinach with White Wine Butter Thyme Sauce, created by Mary over at The Kitchen Paper.

Here’s how we did it:

PREP TIME: 5 mins
COOK TIME: 30 mins
TOTAL TIME: 35 mins
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 large chicken breasts (we used 3 breasts for leftovers)
  • 1 tsp paprika (I’m sure we used more — just shake liberally)
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves (we used a more, since we used more chicken)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (we used five small cloves)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 handfuls spinach (we used more, and cheated using frozen spinach!)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Season the chicken breasts with the paprika, rubbing it evenly over both sides. Also season with salt and pepper — about ¼ tsp each.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the chicken breasts. Cook on the first side for three minutes (or until crisping and golden), flip, and turn the heat down to medium, or slightly less. Let cook for another three minutes before adding the remaining butter, thyme and garlic.
  3. Cook, stirring the thyme and garlic around, for about 2 minutes before adding the wine.
  4. Bring the wine to a gentle simmer and let cook for 20 minutes. It will reduce, so add more if necessary.
  5. Add the spinach, and let wilt fully. Season with salt and pepper, make sure the chicken is done, and serve with a grain of your choice.  (We served over rice, which soaked up the sauce really nicely.)

This dish reminded us of our time living in France: the flavors were subtle — you may want to add more salt and pepper in the end — but so delicious.  How can you go wrong with that much wine, butter, and garlic?  (Answer: You can’t.)

Bon appétit!

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travel guide: edinburgh, scotland

Royal Mile

When the hubs and I were studying in London, we were lucky enough to take advantage of the long school breaks to travel the UK, Europe, and further afield — destinations we may not have been able to visit for a very long time if they hadn’t been so cheap and convenient from Heathrow or King’s Cross.  Edinburgh was one such place.

Edinburgh

So, a few days before Christmas, as the sun set (around 2 p.m.), we climbed aboard our train on Platform 9 3/4 (only joking) and set off from London to spend a few lovely days in Edinburgh, Scotland.  And we can’t wait to go back.

when to go
Late summer is the “warmest” time to visit Scotland (bonus — you’re so far north, the sun stays “out” forever.  Notice my liberal use of quotation marks.).  However, if you’re willing to brave the cold, Hogamanay (New Years) in Edinburgh is a party not to be missed.

where to stay
Find a hotel within walking distance of The Royal Mile.  This is “main drag” of historic Edinburgh, a steep street lined with shops, pubs, churches, closes, and wynds that starts at Holyrood Palace and ends at its peak in the imposing Edinburgh Castle.  We were able to stay about a ten minute walk from the thick of it for pretty cheap.Edinburgh castle

what to eat … and drink
If this isn’t what you came to Edinburgh for, it may be why you stay.  Here are the three things that matter most:

bangers, black pudding, haggis, and neeps & tatties at The Albanach
  1. Scotch
    • Scotch is God’s gift to very cold people, aka the Scots.  Basically, scotch is smoky whisky.  It’s like that because the malt is cooked using peat, a very smoky fuel.  If you’re like me, you love the “peaty” stuff — the really smoky scotch, a lot of which comes from Islay, off Scotland’s west coast.  Even if you aren’t the biggest whisky fan, you must try a wee dram on any visit to Edinburgh.  See “what to do” below for more tips on exploring Edinburgh’s scotch scene.
  2. Haggis
    • When you hear “haggis,” you probably assume it’s something gross.  On paper, you aren’t wrong.  But in reality, haggis — if it’s done right — is flavorful, comforting, and (like scotch) absolutely necessary to survive the damp cold of Scotland.  It’s usually served with neeps and tatties, but don’t be scared — that just means mashed turnips and potatoes.  The best haggis we ate was at The Albanach, a lovely pub on the Royal Mile.
  3. Black Pudding
    • Like haggis, you might not want to try black pudding if you Google what’s inside it — but that would be a terrible mistake.  Black pudding is salty, crunchy, creamy, and carb-y all at once, and I could eat it every day.  We had delicious black pudding at The Albanach as well, but most pubs do it pretty well.  You can also find white pudding here and there, sometimes served in a traditional full breakfast.

what to do

  • Walk the Royal Mile.  Get lost (but don’t slip!) in its closes and wynds.  Pop into its pubs for a dram or a pint.  Stop into a shop for a wooly sweater — you’ll need it.  Pretend you’re living in medieval times, or in Outlander, or in Hogsmeade!

    close Edinburgh
    one of Edinburgh’s steep closes off the Royal Mile
  • Visit Edinburgh Castle.  It’s a massive fortress of a place, and incredibly well preserved.  If you skip every other site in Edinburgh, at least walk the castle grounds, where you can get a full view the city.  Your ticket inside the castle includes access to multiple exhibits, including the Scottish crown jewels and the national war memorial.
  • Wet your whistle at The Scotch Whisky Experience, a fabulous tour and tasting destination near the tip-top of the Royal Mile.  Your ticket includes a Disney-like ride that shows you how scotch is made; a smell-and-taste testing lesson to help you choose your region of choice (each of Scotland’s five scotch-making regions turn out slightly different flavors); a tour of the world’s largest scotch collection; and a free dram at the end of your journey.  When you’re done and feeling like a scotch expert, head down the road to Royal Mile Whiskies to taste test some more and buy a bottle or two to bring home.  (Or drink in your hotel.)
    The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • Grab some fresh air on Calton Hill.  Clamber up the stairs off Princes Street to check out this sprawling park, littered with multiple monuments and surrounded on all sides by fabulous views of the city, the sea, and the Salisbury Crags.  Calton Hill
  • Go shopping!  For modern shops, take a stroll down Princes Street in the New Town, Edinburgh’s city center.  For souvenirs and traditional fare, the Royal Mile and surrounding streets in Old Town are lined with shops selling tartan, kilts, wool sweaters, scotch, shortbread, bagpipes, and everything else that screams “Scotland.”  Tartan scarves for the whole clan!
  • When you’re tired of sightseeing, grab a warming pint at the Halfway House, Edinburgh’s tiniest pub located down the treacherously steep Fleshmarket (yes, flesh market) Close.  If it’s late and quiet, the barkeep may even let you come behind the bar and pull your own pint.Halfway House

Edinburgh may be freezing, but its delightful people, hearty food, smoky drink, and timeless charm will keep you cozy and warm.

(But wear lots of wool. Just to be safe.)

Slàinte! (Cheers!)
scotch

outlander… & travel guide preview

I’m a few chapters into Voyager, the third book in Diana Gabaldon‘s fabulous “Big, Fat Historical Fiction” series, Outlander.

You may have read the books or seen the TV adaptation on Starz, or maybe you’ve never heard of any of it.  I hadn’t until about a year ago, when I finally took the advice of a good friend and world-class bookworm to start reading this series immediately.

when you finish the first book, you can watch these beautiful people on the show. win-win!
when you finish the book (because I know you read the book first, right?), you can watch these beautiful people on the show. win-win!

Thank goodness I listened.  I am a huge fan of historical fiction (I studied history in grad school, after all) and can’t get enough of adventurous, romantic books set in the past, from Atonement to my childhood favorite, Catherine, Called Birdy.  I instantly fell for Gabaldon’s fantastic writing and interesting characters, and devoured the (quite hefty) book in days.

So if you’re a sucker for Scotland, strong female leads, or (in Gabaldon’s words) “history, warfare, medicine, sex [author’s note: lots of really excellent sex], violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair…voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul,” you simply must pick up Outlander this instant.

All this swashbuckling Scottishness has had me 1) sipping a little too much scotch while feverishly flipping pages and 2) missing Scotland quite terribly.  So stay tuned for a travel guide on the timeless, romantic, and incredibly freezing capital of Scotland: Edinburgh.
Edinburgh castle

(Seriously, Outlander is only $1.99 on Kindle.  Get on with it, will ye?)

7 tips for a better résumé

Writing a resume can be a scary thing.  I’ve written (and rewritten) a fair few myself, more than once under the anxious weight of of unemployment.

But in this competitive, transient job market — where we don’t expect to hold a job for more than a couple years, let alone stick around long enough to earn that gold watch — we young folks are going to have to write (and rewrite) resumes an awful lot.

To make it all a bit less scary, here are some tips to help you started.  With just a little blood, sweat, and a thesaurus, that resume may just land you your next great job.

  1. write real good
    (Har har.)
    You already know your resume should be free of grammatical or spelling errors.  That stuff just looks sloppy, and is a  legitimate reason for an employer to immediately dismiss your entire application.
  2. keep it clean
    Don’t go over one page unless you have been published multiple times or working for 25 years — and do not use size 5 font to squeeze it all in.  Don’t use a hard-to-read font just to be different.  And definitely don’t use one of those tired, overwrought “objective statements.”  Hiring managers have to look at thousands of these things, so be clean and concise.
  3. be consistent
    Keep verbs in the same tense: I like to use past tense for past jobs, and present tense for my current role.  Use periods at the end of bullet points, or don’t — just keep it the same throughout.  Make sure every section is formatted the same way.  Inconsistencies, like grammatical errors, will stick out like a sore thumb.
  4. use active verbs
    When you describe what you did in a certain role, begin every sentence with an active verb.  Think strong buzzwords like “launched,” “managed,” or “transformed.”  These words will help frame you in a more dynamic light.
  5. demonstrate impact
    Hiring managers want to know how you made a positive impact in your past roles.  Instead of just regurgitating your duties, use “impact statements” to illustrate what you did in that role, how you did it, and the positive end result.
  6. play to your audience
    Where are you applying?  Is it a creative job?  Perhaps you can use a more modern, sans serif font or a slightly different format to set yourself apart.  A government or corporate job?  Stick to Times New Roman or similar, and keep it extra clean.  Craft the resume your hiring manager wants to see.
  7. don’t recycle
    The same resume will not work for every job.  Just like a cover letter, you should tweak your resume (save multiple versions!) to best suit the description of the job you are going for.  If I am applying to a communications job, I will highlight all of my comms experience.  For a policy job, I’ll leave out most of the comms stuff and play up my policy experience and fancy education.  One size does not fit all.

When you’ve finished your first draft, check out these “completely insane” resumes for a little laugh.

You got this.  Write on!

fine wine of the month: rex goliath cab

If there’s one thing that can soothe my soul after a long day of work, it’s a warm, fuzzy glass (or two) of red wine.  But my husband and I work five days a week, so that glass or two (times two) can really add up.  So we’re always on the lookout for a good wine that won’t break the bank.  And now, dear friends, I shall pass on the results of this tireless research to you.

This month’s big red is Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine came recommended by some friends of ours, and it does not disappoint.  In fact, it won first prize at a recent blind wine tasting party.  At around $8 per bottle (or two for $10 at your local Harris Teeter!), you really can’t ask for more than that.

Rex Goliath
The Rex Goliath website describes this cab as one of their “bold” wines, and for a cheap wine they aren’t wrong.  It doesn’t have as much oomph as a more expensive cab, but that actually makes it more versatile.  We’ve sipped this alongside the typically prescribed beef or brie, but it would pair just fine with whatever you’re making for dinner.  (Mac ‘n’ cheese, anyone?)

If you’re hesitant, it’s even sold in a 500mL carton.  But at about $2 a glass, we think the full bottle is worth a fair try.  (Plus, like, antioxidants.  You know?)

Happy sipping!

disclaimer: Rex Goliath did not ask me to review their product and I am not receiving compensation for this review in any way.  We just really love wine. Enjoy!