Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shake 'n Bake (and I helped!)

I decided that tonight would be a good night to tackle some actual "cooking."  The Good Housewife Project had to commence sometime...I couldn't just sit around eating candy while writing about trying harder to do this whole thing and then not follow through.  What would my 5 readers think of my commitment then?  ;)  I pulled 4 chicken breasts out of my freezer to thaw while also running through my morning routine of getting the kids dressed and fed and starting some laundry (after getting Abby ready and to the bus stop, of course).  Laundry, by the way, was not on my docket for today until my husband helpfully informed me that he's been on such a great workout kick lately (good for him!) (that was meant to be sarcastic, but in writing, it looks like I was being supportive--score one point for The Project!) (okay, that last part was sarcasm again...geez) that he was entirely out of shorts to work out in...he did the elliptical in our garage in his pajama pants last night to make a point that I needed to do some laundry.  I hate doing laundry (it's the obnoxious never-ending chore), but what I hate most about laundry is reaching into my hamper and pulling out his soaking wet sweaty socks (among other items) after he works out.  So gross.  Anyway, back to the cooking.

I wasn't sure where to start dinner-wise--I haven't had much time the last few days to get on Pinterest and find some recipes for my new cookware, and I don't know if I would have the ingredients on hand even if I did find some recipes (my general assumption is that if you don't cook, having ingredients on hand to do just that is pretty unlikely).  I remembered seeing a box of Shake 'n Bake that I bought ages ago sitting in my pantry the last time something fell out of there and I had to do some rearranging, so I thought that could be a safe, easy first attempt.  I talked to my mom on the phone during the boys' naptime, shortly before the cooking commenced, and I told her that I was making Shake 'n Bake (which, by the way, was a staple that my mom cooked all the time when I was growing up).  She said, "Well, aren't you Suzy Homemaker."  (Anyone want to guess where I got my sarcastic streak?)  I immediately said, quite defensively, "No, I'm not!"  I stubbornly cling to my anti-housewife ways, which means The Good Housewife Project may be harder than I thought.  My mom was being humorously passive aggressive--clearly, she knows better than to think I'm Suzy Homemaker, nor does she believe for an instant that Shake 'n Bake makes anyone Suzy Homemaker.  I think she has always been slightly shocked and dismayed that this Bad Housewife was born of such a Good Housewife.  I also don't understand how that happened, although I think it was because my mom was so good, she never needed any help, and therefore, I never learned by helping her.  (This irony makes me laugh, because every time my mom made Shake 'n Bake when I was growing up, I always said, "It's Shake 'n Bake--and I helped!" in a really horrible Southern accent like those old Shake 'n Bake commercials...  I, in fact, did not help one bit.)

Random question: Who is Suzy Homemaker?  Oh, Google--how I love you...Suzy Homemaker was a doll from the 1960's, and she "personified the quintessential female American housewife, or a housewife who manages the household with enthusiasm."  Is that who I'm attempting to emulate?  I think I want to be more of a happy, witty, 50/50 partner with my husband who also happens to be a decent cook and have a clean house in addition to well-adjusted children...that's not too much to ask for, I don't think.  ;)

My question exactly

Anyway, I started the Shake 'n Bake effort with the goal to have the chicken in the oven by 4:30pm tonight, because Abby had dance class at 5:30pm...I wanted dinner on the table by 5pm so that we could all eat together (my first Good Housewife effort!) before her class.  I read the directions on the box--seemed straightforward.  I had seen my mom Shake 'n Bake many times, usually while I was sitting on the kitchen counter regaling her with the most recent gossip from school instead of helping, so I thought I knew what to expect.  I pulled out two little bags and two packets of coating...  I was confused--I didn't know it came with 2 kits, so that was kind of an exciting bonus.  I unfolded one of the bags and was thoroughly confused...the box said that I should be making 6-8 boneless skinless chicken breasts, and I was only making 4, but there was no way my 4 pieces of chicken were going to fit in that tiny bag.  Where was the huge bag I remember my mom shaking the daylights out of??  I read the instructions again, and this time noted that they want you to put one or two pieces in the bag at a time--totally not what I was envisioning, but whatever.  I wet the chicken pieces and bagged/shook them one by one in a very messy process--I don't like messing with raw chicken, and this process somehow seemed very contaminating of everything in my kitchen.  Maybe I just need to get a better system down now that I know what I'm doing.  I don't know what took me so long, but I didn't get the chicken in the oven until 4:40pm, and at 5pm, it wasn't done...  Grrr.  The smaller chicken breast was done, so I cut the end off, cut it up for Abby, and put it on her plate with corn and some green beans and peppers that Dan had stir fried for us.  I put her hair in a bun while she scarfed down her dinner (the rest of the chicken still in the oven), and I sent Dan out the door with her to get her to dance class.  Urgh...not quite what I had in mind.  I pulled the rest of the chicken out after 10 extra minutes, cut up pieces for the boys, got them some Steamfresh corn and some canned Bruce's Sweet Potatoes that I warmed up, and sat down at the table to eat with them.  Here's my plate--not too shabby:

Lookin' good!

Jake loves chicken, so I gave him a healthy serving of chicken, along with the sweet potatoes.  When he was little, he would eat corn like there was no tomorrow...until one day when he wouldn't touch it.  Fast forward to today, and he still won't eat corn, nor will he eat peppers or green beans.  So it was just chicken and sweet potatoes for him, plus some mandarin oranges.  He did eat the chicken and the sweet potatoes with some coaxing--the oranges were gone in 2 seconds.  Alex is tougher--I gave him a few pieces of chicken because he typically does not eat's a constant struggle.  My parents watched the kids for us in October and fed them dinner, and my mom made Shake 'n Bake--when we picked the kids up, she went on and on about how Alex ate tons of the chicken and kept asking for more!  I was hopeful that he would do the same with my Shake 'n Bake effort.  He did not.  He ate a little sweet potato, none of the corn, and none of the chicken--but he did eat the apple slices I gave him. I'm remembering yet another reason why I hate cooking--kids who don't eat the food you spent all that time to make.  I have one straight carnivore and one vegetarian making my life difficult.  Here are the boys...not eating their dinner:

Don't ask what happened to Jake's kids don't usually eat naked!

I didn't get any pictures of Dan eating, because he wasn't here until after I was done eating and already cleaning up!  So much for our family dinner, although I made so much chicken that I now have leftovers for tomorrow night (when Abby has gymnastics class...probably another scrambled attempt at eating together), so that's nice for me.  For reference, my husband hates leftovers.

Today's cooking effort certainly wasn't perfect, but I feel like a Not-So-Bad-Housewife for trying!  The Shake 'n Bake really couldn't have been easier (if a little messy), so it will probably be something I make frequently (just call me Suzy Homemaker!).  I need to learn better time management when it comes to putting meals on the table--I heated the corn up too early, so it was cold by the time the chicken was done (although in my defense, if the chicken had been done in 20 minutes like it was supposed to be, everything should have still been warm at the same time!).  And, of course, I should probably plan family "home cooked" meals for when everyone can eat together and we're not so rushed!


  1. You make me laugh! If you slice the breasts in half so they're thinner or cut into strips - they'll cook faster. Awesome effort! I love shake n bake!

    1. Good advice! I will definitely keep it in mind next time I Shake 'n pieces of chicken were so big that one took up the whole width of the bag and trapped all the coating in the bottom...I had to wrestle with it to get it coated on the other side! Yeah, I totally don't know what I'm doing.

  2. Your plate looks delicious! I also love your Suzy Homemaker history lesson :)