Cornmeal Chive & Cheddar Waffles

 waffle

*Insert drooling noises here*

Delicious dinner brought to our home by The Bright Eyed Baker.

I used a yogurt/milk combo instead of buttermilk and double the amount of chives.  They are pretty dense but so flavorful. We ate them with a dollop of sour cream, guac, and salsa on top.

The recipe made 4 Belgian waffles. I added some canned black beans to the third and fourth ones which we’ll eat as leftovers tomorrow.

I’m so full of joy and food right now.

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I can’t help it, eating is my hobby

I’ve made a few awesome things over the last months that I want to share.  In no particular order, here are some kitchen hits:

“Carrot” Cupcakes

carrot cakes

For Mr.’s birthday, I made cupcakes! Mind you, he did not ask me to make them – he doesn’t much enjoy sweets (weirdo). I saw a picture and decided to get Pinterst-y. Also, it was near Easter and my mom’s birthday and I hadn’t busted out my new cupcake making kit from my Reddit Secret Santa. It was had a blast making these “carrot” cake cupcakes. In typical fashion, I loved the idea but then got bored/impatient on the execution. Oh well, they turned our adorable and they tasted great.

Apple Peach Pie

PieCollage

For Pi Day (3.14), I couldn’t resist making a pie. Apple peach to be exact. After seeing a billion pies at the grocery store and almost buying one, I had a hankering and wanted something homemade. This whole process was last-minute and peaches are not in season but canned peaches worked perfectly. As I often do, I cut the sugar – I believe this gives me full permission to eat pie for breakfast. I did and it was delish.

Falafel

Falafelcollage

I like falafel but don’t eat it terribly often. When I have in the past, I used a package mix for the falafel and it is always fine. This time I decided to whip up my own in the food processor and it was totally worth it. I didn’t use a single recipe so I can’t link you anything, but rather I looked at a bunch of different recipes and improvised base on what I had in the fridge/cupboard. Two things I did that I believe made these terrific is that #1: I doubled the amount of cilantro/parsley of almost any recipe I found. And, b) I used 1/2 chickpeas 1/2 lentils. I went with patties instead of balls since I don’t deep fry and this makes them more evenly cooked. I pan fried them to get them brown then baked them till heated through.

Irish Soda Bread

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I can’t let St. Patrick’s Day pass without some Irish soda bread. Growing up on the south side of Chicago in a severely Irish neighborhood, soda bread is a staple. I remember making it as a group/class project in elementary school every year. Nowadays, if left to my own devices, I would eat this whole loaf alone. To prevent just such an occurrence, I instead brought it to work and fed others. Several coworkers had never eaten Irish soda bread, so it was fun to share this classic.

Last night, I made mini chocolate chunk cookies. I’ll post about those later…. Until then, Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz said it best:

 


Recipes That Add Up

I am often looking for cooking shortcuts. Sometimes I do love to sit down with a Cooks Illustrated three page article and recipe and follow every little scientific step in order to get the best results. But, on weeknights, when I get home from work tired and want to make time for a run also, I want to maximize efficiency and flavor while minimizing the need for brain power.

For the last few months I’ve been using Cook Smarts to help me in that quest. They do such a great job of reusing ingredients or sauces in the next day or two’s meals that is has made me sorta obsessed. Fish for dinner? Make a lemon yogurt sauce to go with it and use the remainder for tomorrow night’s gyros. Had to buy a bag of carrots for a carrot side on Tuesday, use the rest of the bag on Thursday to make carrot soup. I know this isn’t rocket science… I’m not blowing anyone’s mind here, but I am admitting it is not how I’ve always thought about meal planning and I even when I have, I certainly haven’t been great about practicing it.

These days I’m trying to practice it more. More planning leads to less stress, fewer “what do you want? I dunno what do you want” conversions with Mr., more thoughtful balanced meals, and even saves a buck or two of the grocery store. All for the low low price of some weekend time for planning.

What tips or tricks do you have for meal planning, using up ingredients before they spoil, etc? Care to help a human out?


Football snacks

Mr. and I love football. We play in two fantasy leagues and from Sept to Dec we schedule around games and spend quite a bit of time tinkering with out lineups. This leads to lots of home cooking and snack eating which is a double edged sword. Delicious but not always healthy snacks sit in bowls as we munch away our Sunday afternoons.

We try to make sure we have veggies and water and limit the chips and microwave popcorn. One go-to snack we’ve started eating is kale chips. I’ve had some difficulty mastering homemade kale chips as they are a bit fickle and time consuming. Too much or not enough oil, oven too hot leads to burning… but, the last two batches have been fantastic. I started using a fabulous recipe I found here: Kale Chips.

This recipe results in the crispiest, most perfect chips I’ve ever had.

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I mess with the spices according to what I have and what I’m craving. Sometimes just salt, sometimes spicy with cayenne and chili, sometimes garlicky. I’ve never had all the spices listed in the recipe and I prefer a bit more basic flavor so I keep is simple.

The most important part I’ve found is the massaging of the oil into the crevasses of the leaves. This really makes sure all the ruffles crisp up. The slow low heat is the second most important. Be patient and you’ll enjoy a wonderful healthy snack that disappears WAY too fast.

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Triumphant return to cooking

After living in the residence hall for a year working as a Resident Director, Mr. and I have returned to the land of adults.  I work a mere 40hr/week 8am-5pm job that, so far, is incredibly satisfying and interesting. This is such a delightful change of pace from the 60-80hrs/week 8am-10pm that ruled my life during the last academic year. My new job and apartment mean I have time and energy to re-invest in my marriage, myself, my friends, my family, and my cooking and running!

While I’ve done some baking and basic stuff in the kitchen since we moved in, it has been a busy summer/start of the academic year and I am only now feeling truly settled in. The blustery days and nights of fall have begun and it makes me want to get adventurous in the kitchen. I’m nursing a foot/knee injury that I obtained from running the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon in late September, so I have a few more weeks to wait until I can pick back up on after-work runs.  So, my next go-to for burning off the days’ frustration is cooking.  I feel the stress and strains of the day melt away as I chop, stir, and learn new techniques and recipes.

In order to get my culinary juices flowing I’ve turned to CookSmarts.com. I recently discovered this site and decided to try out a month subscription. At only $8, I am hoping this will be a jump-start to my return to the kitchen. After dorm food and eating out for most of the last year, my food ideas/planning skills are rusty. This site has lots of great features including meal plans, shopping lists of ingredients, videos, and general cooking resources.  So far, some of it seems geared a bit more towards cooking/kitchen novices – but maybe as I explore more that will change. I will continue to update you throughout this first month and let you know what I think. (I’m in no way affiliated with CookSmarts, nor am I being compensated for a review… this is just me tellin’ you what I think).

Last night I made salmon en papillote with a puree sweet potato soup.  SO freakin’ easy and tasty. The recipe said it would take 40 mins to make and that was spot on. We were sitting down to eat in about 37 minutes. First, I started the sweet potato soup.  A very simple, but delicious, dish. Saute onions and garlic in a sauce pan. Peel and chop up sweet potato – add to the sauce pan. Add chicken stock to cover potatoes, then boil till soft.  Use immersion blender, or regular blender to puree it all then put back in pan and salt/pepper to taste.  I used my food processor to puree which can get messy.. so start with the actual chunks then slowly add in the broth. It turned out like this:

puree

While the potatoes were boiling and softening I prepped the fish and threw it in the oven.  This process was relatively easy but making the papillote packet for the first time meant I had to pay attention.  Cooking en papillote is a technique where you wrap up the food in a little packet bake it.  This lets the food steam cook with whatever natural juices and/or added marinade/fats you add in… plus it is adorable for unwrapping.  I did not take pics of the whole process but, shit, you folks know how to use google!

My salmon fillets were apx .75lbs each.  I prepared the marinade as per the recipe (dijon, maple syrup, balsamic, oil)  and laid lemon slices along the top, then folded the papillote as directed.  It looked like a little calzone.  And, since it was salmon in there, I was technically in the low-cal calzone zone.

Baked at 400 for apx 12 mins (adjust as necessary for thickness of fillets) they turned out like this:

wrapped fishThe lemon and maple syrup scents filled the house when I opened the packets. The lemon slices make that fillet look huge when in reality it was a super tiny lemon 🙂

fish unwrapped

Add some sparkling water and a warmed mini sourdough loaf and we ate like kings and queens last night:

breadplated


Bonkers for Berries

Bonkers for Berries

My u-pick berry haul from this weekend. Only took an hour to get ~11lbs of fresh, delicious, GIGANTIC berries. Can’t wait to clean and freeze them tonight so I can make jam soon!

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So pretty in their buckets!

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My berry picking partner!

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The blackberries are HUGE! Also, the blackberry and raspberry bushes had no thorns on them! I’d never heard of such a wonderful thing.  They were so easy and pleasant to pick! I’ve always stuck to blueberries and strawberries because I hate the thorns, but a whole new world was opened this weekend. I cannot wait to eat the jam.


July Stats

In July

  • 44.3  = Miles I ran (or 71.3 Kilometers, or 233,904 Feet, or 2,806,848 Inches, or 38.5 Nautical Miles).
  • 5 =  States I set foot in  (Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington – listed in alpha order not awesomeness order) 
  • 3 = Siblings I hugged (That is all of them – a feat considering we live in Washington, Iowa, and New Jersey)
  • 3,751 = Approximation of the times I kissed my newest family member (my nephew) (Sadly, I did not get to hug and love on my two intelligent, funny, kind, wonderful nieces)
  • 3 = Lbs lost (slow progress is the best kind when it comes to healthy weight loss!)
  • 1 = New jobs accepted  (can’t wait to start it!)
  • 14 = Days spent with Mr. (Summer traveling is fun but I miss him!)
  • 3 = Times I ate Dunkin Donuts (4 times I drank coffee from D&D – (There aren’t any in WA and I love them so! With all my travel I had to get as much as I could!)