Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Spiced Apricot Chicken and a Guest Author

Thighs with Coconut Rice

It took me a few days to put into words how I feel about this lovely lady.  A most poetic author, who never fails to capture my attention with her “dreamy” prose.

Dreamy.  Marni’s word.  Every time I hear it, read it, see it – I think of her.  Long time acquaintances, now friends.  I won’t give away the story as she’s written a bit about it below, but I can tell you, I never forgot her.  You know, that one person you sort of knew, really liked, but never had the opportunity to be real friends?  And then, years later I discovered her blog.  Her love of the written word.  Her talent I so admire.

Sometimes Marni lets me sneak peaks at what she’s writing, what she’s working on.  And again, it’s always “dreamy”.   A talented gal, Marni started a stationary company along with her blog called “noted“.  There you’ll find her beautiful and exquisite line of stationary as well as poetic verse of life, love, family, humor and anything that strikes her fancy.  I find myself constantly checking her blog just to read a new snippet of her writing.  And of course, I have “noted” stationary (and a pencil!) in my office.  She’s a published author, gracious and lovely with a quiet strength that exudes a zest for life and love and all that’s dreamy.

In honor of this most delicious post, Marni asked me to post a dish that one might take to a neighbor.  A perfect pairing with her story.   This Spiced Apricot Chicken with Coconut Rice is an enchanting meal for a neighbor, family or friends.  Thank you Marni for guest posting!

t Rice

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Hi! My name is Marni and I am the creator of “noted.”, a stationery line as well as a blog where I note my favorite moments. Karista has been a friend both near… here in Mesa, Arizona, and far… social media and through blogging.

Her daughter Alex and my son Hayden were friends in kindergarten. Back then life was a blur of childhood activity. There seemed to be only short moments of pocketed conversation between school drop offs and pick-ups and the occasional play date or birthday party for catching up.

I remember Alex attending Hayden’s sixth birthday party at the park, and then, as if time fast forwarded leaving a bit of itself behind, there is Karista four years later, packed and ready to move to Washington.  I can see her, standing at one end of my living room while I am at the other, she is looking up and over me, maybe admiring the newly faux finished walls (fad of the times), or maybe looking out the shuttered window behind me at our swimming pool, and then an emptiness fills me that we missed our moment to connect.

We could have been more than our children’s mothers to one another, we could have been close friends. That  moment  is stamped to my memory, a  memorized  profile pic that pops up whenever I think about her or she sends me a quick text, bringing me back to that day in my living room, and I notice our connection was there all along, waiting for us to realize it.

Sometimes it’s a parenting question or more often a note of confidence, stirring me on, keeping my words bubbling gently to the top, she knows I work best at a slow simmer. My dreamiest times happen there. Something warm on the stove that needs my calm attention giving my mind space to wander, eyes gazing out the window, drawing them to notice the tree that was bare for the past two years has gathered up the courage to leaf out!

I honestly didn’t think it would make it. It was a transplanted tree you see. We moved into our home two years ago this past December and immediately our next door neighbor came to my husband,  outside unloading boxes in the garage, and asked if we would mind cutting down a backyard tree. His first introduction. He even had the business card in hand of the tree service and offered to pay himself! He wanted that washed out shade of green with needle like leaves that didn’t seem to serve any purpose but litter his pool, gone.

I didn’t really like the tree, knew it was temporary, but my territorial defenses surrounding our new space we had as yet to associate as home, rose at the request.  How dare he ask us to cut down OUR  tree.

After a few months, and experiencing his same pool grief, we agreed, paying for it ourselves while making it clear to him that we would be planting a new tree in that same approximate space. One that wasn’t so messy but a replacement tree none the less.  He was silent. We went ahead and planted a tree that was young and spindly but tall enough to make a subtle statement. Once planted it seemed to fill the space perfectly, not too close to our shared block wall and with the hope of a future canopy of green! I was looking forward to having a shady green corner one day, romanticizing, imagining myself sipping lemonade while turning the dog-eared pages of a borrowed book. Soon the spare amount of leaves it had clinging to its few branches dropped. Mostly in our yard.  Crunchy and dry, the tree went from green to brown in days.

All that next spring and summer it was bald, like our neighbor Eric. It seemed as soon as it was nestled snug in the newly dug hole it went dormant. Maybe in shock from the new soil, or too much fertilizer, or maybe Eric had won. My curtain of hope closed. Nothing would grow in that finicky spot which is why the previous owners had chosen such a nuisance of a tree. Eric would be happy.  A private person, we would probably never know if he liked the outcome or not. He wasn’t unlikeable, just hard to read, a quiet neighbor…which I know from past experience can be the best neighbor.

So here we are two years later, I was pretty much ready to give the tree the boot this spring if it didn’t perk up and produce, but this quiet tree I nicknamed “Eric’s tree” is now full of leaves.  Crazy happy leaves, bright green and lush as if it had been resting, quietly saving its energy just to surprise!

Eric died in a small plane crash along with two other pilots taking off from Telluride this past January. I miss seeing his silent face, occasionally catching his eye long enough to challenge him with a friendly wave.  I am sad for his family. He never had much to say to me but “his” tree will grow to offer quiet shade in both our yards and its lovely ode to life makes me smile every day.

 

Spiced Apricot Chicken and a Guest Author

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

    For the Spiced Apricot Chicken
  • A tablespoon or two of coconut oil
  • 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dried apricots (or a mixture of dried apricots, golden raisins or dried cherries)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish (if you don’t like cilantro substitute with fresh Italian parsley
    For the Coconut Rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup basmati rice
  • ¼ t salt

Instructions

  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium high heat, adding a tablespoon of coconut oil. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken thighs. You want to see a nice deep brown color on the thighs. This creates flavor and will make the dish taste fabulous.
  • Once all the chicken thighs are browned (you may need to do this in batches) transfer to a plate and hold.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add additional coconut oil to the Dutch oven or large pot if needed. Stir in the shallots and let them wilt a bit. Next stir in the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, star anise, fresh thyme and dried apricots. Give it a quick stir and then add the white wine.
  • Add the chicken thighs back into the Dutch oven or large pot and turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then turn the heat to low. Cover and let the chicken slow cook for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reach 165F.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Coconut Rice.
  • Once the chicken is done take it off the heat and let the chicken rest in the sauce for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the coconut rice on a platter and then layer the chicken thighs on the rice. Ladle the sauce with the dried fruit over the chicken and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
  • To prepare the Coconut Rice
  • Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.
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    13 Comments

  • Reply
    Anneli Faiers
    April 25, 2014 at 4:21 am

    I love chicken cooked like this with spices and apricots….they give such a wonderful sweetness that goes so well with the fragrance if the spices. A lovely recipe and guest post 🙂

    • Reply
      bennett
      April 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Thank you Anneli! I’m the same, I adore the dried apricots with these spices. Such a lovely combination. And such a treat over the coconut rice 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

  • Reply
    Rosemary Mullally
    April 25, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Looks delicious Karista.

    • Reply
      bennett
      April 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

      thank you Rosemary! have a lovely and delicious weekend 🙂

  • Reply
    Marni
    April 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

    This warm inviting dish will forever be associated with our friendship story. Thank you Karista for allowing me to guest post on your delicious blog. Hope we see each other soon! xo, m

    • Reply
      bennett
      April 25, 2014 at 9:55 am

      You are so welcome Marni! I feel so honored to have you guest post today. Yes, we will make a visit happen this year! 🙂 xo

  • Reply
    Ksenia
    April 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    So delicious – I love a good apricot chutney! And what a nice backstory 🙂

    • Reply
      bennett
      May 1, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you Ksenia! Marni is such an amazing writer, and lovely friend 🙂 Hope you’re doing well and enjoying spring!

  • Reply
    Coco in the Kitchen
    April 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Looks delicious! I’m making this tonight for my family. YUM

    I have a Mom’s Day giveaway coming up – should be ready by tomorrow.
    It’s to honour Mom and help save the bees!

    • Reply
      bennett
      May 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you Coco! I’ll head on over and take a look. I’m all about saving the bees, and of course honoring Mom. 🙂

  • Reply
    Alice
    April 30, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Spiced apricot chicken was a lovely favourite when I was growing up. I love how now a days it traces back to those morrocan heritage days and has become a firm favourite all round. Looks delicious indeed and hi to Marni!

    • Reply
      bennett
      May 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      I never had Apricot Chicken growing up but as an adult I’ve run across several different versions. I do love the Moroccan flavors in this dish. 🙂 I’ll tell Marni you said Hi!

  • Reply
    laurasmess
    May 1, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    This is a wonderful, poignant post. I re-read parts of Marni’s story a few times just to let the beautiful words sink in. Thanks Marni, for the wonderful snapshot of your and Karista’s history, and the story of Eric’s tree. Karista, this apricot chicken dish looks divine! I definitely want to try it myself… and maybe get to know my own neighbours a little bit better 🙂 x

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