Monday, July 30, 2012

Missing My Old Roommates -- Apricot Baked Chicken

So, once upon a time in college I decided I wanted to be an RA. Coincidentally, this was the year that I was not guaranteed housing on campus. While I went through the application and interview process, convinced I would be overseeing a floor in my dorm the following year as a school-appointed-peer-authority figure (which my advisers assured me I'd be IDEAL for), my college friend group secured an apartment for the next year.

As fate often does for me, it threw me a serious curveball when I discovered that I was not hired for the position. All of my friends were securely housed with no extra space, and I was denied housing by the campus lottery system. It was time to freak out.

Brookasaurus girls all ready for St. Patrick's Day Parade

Thankfully, my mom had randomly met another woman whose daughter went to my college and needed a roommate. Turns out, this girl (Jessye) and I had been on the verge of becoming friends for the first two years of college but it never quite happened, even after studying abroad together. After many trials and tribulations and searching, not only did we find a lovely little apartment in Brookline, we also acquired two roommates--one was another girl we studied abroad with and the other was a craigslist roommate who also went to our school.

I was nervous to move in, in recent years I've found it hard to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends. However, despite never hanging out before and only knowing a tiny bit about each other, my new roommates soon became some of my most treasured friends from college. Jessye (other blog here), Steph, Sarah (other blog here) and I had so many adventures in our apartment, lovingly dubbed Brookasaurus, including late night impromptu dance parties, suggestively frosted Christmas cookies, sing-a-longs in the livingroom to either Disney movies or Jessye playing guitar, many tipsy nights off box wine, and many, many cooking adventures. It was here that my first serious experiments with food began, two years before I would begin to actually blog about them.

Dance Party at midnight. I think one of our neighbors came to see the
commotion and took this picture.

I look back on my year with these roommates with much love and nostalgia. Now these friends all live in NYC, and if I'm lucky I get to see them about once a year. It's just amazing how well we all got along, being strangers who happened to live together by chance. I will always remember them and I hope we always keep in touch.

Our Christmas Party and awesome tiny Charlie Brown Tree in the

This chicken recipe was in a little booklet of handwritten recipes that Jessye brought with her when we all moved in. It was one of the first recipes I made myself after breaking my vegetarian streak, and one of the most flavorful and delicious chicken dishes I've ever made. For some reason it reminds me of a 50's Housewife type recipe, probably because it involves mixing together a bunch of seemingly random food products (mostly processed--to my organic/localvore friends, I apologize) to make a family-friendly dish. I've had to adapt it a bit, since some of the suggested ingredients no longer exist (Polar all-fruit apricot soda, for one), but I'm sure it's just as good as the original. I paired it with the Cheesy Risotto and some asparagus I roasted and drizzled with truffle oil.

Jessye's Aunt Elly's Apricot Chicken, Edited by Ashley

  • 4 chicken breasts (bone in keeps them nice and moist, but boneless also works fine)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 envelope French onion soup mix
  • 1 small jar apricot preserves (about a cup. Pureed fresh apricot also works)
  • 2 cups Polar Orange Dry Soda (I think this is a New England brand of soda, if you cannot find it then Orangina is very similar)
  • 1/2 bottle French dressing

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Chop onion and arrange on the bottom of a casserole dish. Place chicken on top of onions and sprinkle with soup mix. Slather apricot preserves on top, and pour soda around the chicken. Top with the French dressing.

-Bake for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Check often, if the top of the chicken is getting dry, spoon some of the liquid mixture over the top. Serve immediately with a hefty scoop of the sauce on top.

-Note, if you would like the sauce to be thicker, scoop some out of the casserole dish and place in a saucepan over low heat. Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon cold water and slowly add to the sauce. It should thicken up a bit.


  1. I love it when certain dishes bring back such fond memories!

  2. That is so sweet! I've always wondered what it's like to have roommates you don't hate (other than my boyfriend Michael, everyone I've ever had as a roommate ended up being evil). That sounds like so much fun!

    1. I've been incredibly lucky with roommates. The worst I've ever had to deal with was some passive-aggressiveness but on the whole I've gotten along wonderfully with all the roommates I've had. My randomly-assigned freshman year roommate is also one of my closest friends!

  3. What fun memories. I have never had any roommates. Maybe because my boyfriend sent me a horror story about someone he knew. And one of my other friends had a very bad roommate experience.

    1. I know way more roommate horror stories than good ones... I just have been extremely lucky I guess!

  4. Just happened upon your blog today and am loving it--can totally relate to this post, I went to college in downtown Boston and have gone through MANY apartments and living situations in the past, oh, ten or so years. Some make me nostalgic, some make me laugh, and some I am happy to never repeat again.

    Living at home right after school is probably the only good time to do it, hope it's relatively painless and you get your head above water a bit. And know you can still have good roommates again-- I'm in my late twenties and still living that dream ;-)

    Great blog. I'll be back for sure!

    1. I went to college in downtown Boston too! Which were you at? Emerson was mine, and I absolutely loved it.

      Thanks for stumbling upon my blog, I'm glad you like it! :) I just tried to click through to yours but it went to some G+ confusion... I think I found it though, and am perusing through right now.

  5. If you told me those were your sisters I wouldn't think twice! The chicken is weird but sometimes the weirdest things come together to make the most delicious dishes! The end result looks yummy.

  6. What an interesting recipe!! I usually keep the French onion soup mix on hand but I will have to buy the others. This looks so good! Chicken is so hard to make exciting sometimes but I love the way the ingredients sound!!


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  7. What a sweet post! Aren't college friends the best? Mine have become my closest, lifelong friends, although they're scattered all over the country now!

  8. Your post made me miss my college days too. :-) In my case, it's over 10 years ago... LOL. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us. My son loves apricot jams most (I think it's so strange as blueberries and strawberries seem to be all the kids' favorite) and this sounds delicious!

  9. Aww thanks for the post girl. This was fun to read. I look forward to that hopeful day that I can eat your left overs once again...

  10. Good roommates can really make or break a college experience, I'm convinced. Sounds like you all were so lucky to find each other!

  11. Great memories! I love when food evokes those kind of good memories, too!