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