This roast chicken reminds me of our wedding. It was fast and cheap, but executed so well that nobody knew the corners that were cut. I put the money on what was important to me, flowers and food.
We feasted on filet mignon at a sit down dinner in a free outdoor venue decorated with $3,000 of wild pink roses. We used the same rented chairs for ceremony for the sit down dinner. Bad surprises, good surprises and humor, but we had our Hollywood wedding, planned in exactly five weeks on a budget of $10,000 for 80 guests and a wedding party of 16. It wasn’t really in Hollywood; it was in Long Beach, but it felt just as celebratory as the police helicopters flew overhead in the evening and we could pretend it was the press.
The Bad Surprise
What Hollywood wedding doesn’t have an adorable long haired chihuahua in it? Her beautiful flowered wreath was ready to go around her neck. When Girly Girl returned from the groomer who was just supposed to give her a bath, to my absolute horror, they had mistakenly cut off her hair. My “oh no” was followed by a loud and firm, “she’s out of the wedding.” Girly Girl did come to the reception and that was no surprise to any of my guests.
The Good Surprise
Out went the dog; in came the children and my BFF. It was my dream to have my best friend’s children in my wedding. We had a falling out, but two weeks before the wedding a chance meeting brought us back together. Her clever thinking to procure wedding clothes from a Vietnamese bridal rental shop saved the day, time and money. It’s a long story, but this part didn’t come together until two weeks before the wedding and I consider it my miracle. Did you know you can rent a tuxedo for a two-year old? Little Gavin started the procession carrying the bible (over his head).
My husband arrived in California five days before the wedding just in time for the rehearsal dinner as the Gay Pride Parade marching past my house. One of those guys should have dressed him for the wedding, because he was found to be standing at the altar with the price tag hanging off of his new suit. Fashion editing for the straight guy is a must!
People say they cry at weddings. As a three times bridesmaid, I only ever cried out in hunger and in pain from cheap pumps and tight undies. Until this day. I cried my eyes out reading my vows. And, I continued to cry during our first dance, even though it was Barry White’s “Your My First, You’re My Last, My Everything.” To this day, that song just makes me happy, and somehow washed away the vision of that shirt and beret, because he did turn into that prince by 6:00 on May 28th, 1999.
People remember the overall beauty and the food. They paid no attention to handmade favors and my very inexpensive, off the rack wedding dress which cost less than the undergarments and alterations. The coconut cake was wedding cake perfection and turned me into the bride who ate her weight in sugar.
A day that started with May clouds at the beach, survived a few bridezilla meltdowns and ended with a stunning sunset. The pastor proclaimed ours to be a marriage made in heaven and to this day I’ve never regretted our fast and frugal approach.
Moving away from my friends was hard, but thirteen years later we still visit and remain close Today I found a handmade card written by Chloe, who was six years old at the time and close since the day I met her at 18 months old. “I’m happy for you but I am not happy you are going to Tennessee.” She drew a picture of seven people sitting at the dinner table, as food was a rich part of our history. This family will be a part of our life forever and forever and I’m so blessed that they shared this day with us.
A good meal with friends means everything because it seals a relationship with super glue.
This wedding still makes me cry.
Fast and Frugal Roasted Chicken Cacciatore
This is non-traditional chicken cacciatore. The frugual part is that you buy a whole chicken, which is always cheaper. The “fast” is that you roast the whole chicken. No cutting it up, no dredging in flour, no browning. The vegetables are made with an Oxo hand held mandolin which turned this into a five-minute prep job.
This dinner for four, including a Greenwise chicken, organic canned tomatoes, fresh bakery bread, and farmer’s market local lettuce cost under $20.
1. Use an Oxo handheld mandolin, slice the potatoes without peeling them and the onion.
2. Rinse, pat dry and season chicken and placed it in a roasting dish.
3. Open a can of tomatoes, and peel three cloves of garlic.
4. Layer the potatoes and onions with olives around the chicken.
5. Place in oven at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.
- 1 small whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 large potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 24 ounce can organic diced or crushed Italian tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (less if you want it less spicy)
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or use the following fresh herbs
- several sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- Handful cured Italian olives (can substitute with 1 teaspoon capers)
- Salt and cover with plastic for refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Prior to baking bring chicken to near room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Rinse chicken in and out. Pat dry. Sprinkle with dried herbs and crushed red pepper in and out. Season again with salt and black pepper.
- Slice onion and potatoes a medium thickness.
- Place chicken in large baking dish (enough to give room for potatoes and tomatoes.
- Layer potatoes and onions around the chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour tomatoes over the potatoes and onions. Add in olives and garlic.
- Bake for 1½ hours. Allow to rest 15 minutes before carving chicken.
- Serve chicken with tomatoes and potatoes. Add some of the sauce to the chicken.