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Fried Green Tomato BLT

October 7, 2012

We’re safely relocated to Ohio. We’re finally in our new house, with some new furniture ordered and the place slowly coming together. Our daughter seems to have FINALLY adjusted to daycare, a new place and a new routine. I’ve started a new job, in which one position turned into two and a half before I’d even been there a month. Life has been hectic, to say the least.

This whole ‘working gal gourmet’ thing has become a challenge to say the least. We barely cruise through the door at 5:30pm, and toddler bedtime looms at 7:00pm. That means getting food on the table for our daughter as soon as we get home. That would be all well and good if my daughter would actually sit at the table and eat while I prepared adult dinner,  but the little daredevil insists upon standing, climbing, and teetering on the furniture, if I can even get her to sit in her booster seat in the first place. I’ve been relying on old favorites that are quick to put together, or can be prepared in advance and popped in the oven. Experimentation isn’t happening much anymore. As I’m sure most of you with children know, being a working mommy to a busy toddler is HARD. But, to be honest, I feel like a much happier and better mommy working than I ever did staying home. I suppose that’s for another blog!

So, my posting will be sparse. Plain and simple. But, when I make something I’m excited about I’ll try to share it! Like today, I saw this beautiful green tomato at the grocery store, and decided to try my hand at a fried green tomato BLT. It could use a little tweaking, to be honest, but it was fun to be inspired and try something new today, and to have some nice quiet nap time to blog about it! Hang in there fellow mommies, cook smart, make a plan, and do the best you can.

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I miss cooking

July 28, 2012

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Hi friends. I miss you. I miss cooking. We’re currently set up in temporary housing in our new town of Dayton, OH, and while the accomodations are much more palatable than I expected, these are the contents of the kitchen drawer. Add to that a craptastic set of pots and pans that may have been purchased at my grandma’s estate sale (along with her drapery, bedding and furniture) and I’m a bit limited in what we’re eating these days. I’m sitting down today trying to prepare a grocery list, but after two weeks in this joint I’m out of homemade ideas that work within the confines of the above tools, and I’m also sick of ordering out! Scrolling through all my old posts is making my mouth water, and I can’t wait to move into our new house, get our stuff out of storage and cook up something delicious. I’m thinking Shrimp Quesadillas will be first, and then Eggplant Parmesan Casserole, and then Balsamic Steak Sandwiches, and a fresh batch of Italian Lemon Cookies, and then….okay, I’ll stop now.

So, in honor of me and that sad kitchen drawer, please cook something delicious this week. I’ll apparently be enjoying wine, frozen pizza and canned goods!

Chicken Stuffed with Pepperoncini and Goat Cheese

July 6, 2012

adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

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I should preface this recipe by letting you know that spicy just isn’t my thing. And to be clear, I define spicy as hot spicy, not flavorful spicy. I have what some might call a delicate tongue when it comes to heat. I once ordered a shrimp dish at Applebees, and specifically asked the waitress if it was “spicy.” She assured me it was not, but it was too spicy for me. I sent it back and opted for the chicken fingers. I detest the spicy sensation. The way I see it, if your mouth is burning, nose is running and eyes are watering, how can you possibly taste anything? I look for depth, complexity of flavors, and texture, all of which become significantly more difficult to sense when your face is on fire.

With that in mind, I generally steer clear of recipes that will be blatantly spicy. I usually avoid cayenne, jalapeno, and most varieties of peppers like the plague. This recipe, however, threw me for a loop. I wasn’t familiar with pepperoncini, and it sounded just enough like pepperoni (which I enjoy once in a while) to lure me in. Even in buying the pepperoncini, it was shelved next to the roasted red peppers, which are harmless and delicious. So I forged ahead.

Well folks, pepperoncini packs a punch! This recipe only got three hearts because it was just too spicy for me. Alas, if you like spicy, you will most likely love this recipe. The creaminess of the goat cheese, is a nice contrast to the heat of the pepperoncini, and the breading on the chicken gives it a nice crunch. Good news is, my husband loves spicy, so I get to pretend mistakes like these are actually my taking one for the team for the pleasure of his pallet. Despite the fact that I burned it a bit. Waaah waaaahn.

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Shrimp Po’boys

June 29, 2012

adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

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As I start typing this, I realize my last awesome recipe post (and perhaps last recipe post at all) was also a shrimp dish. So, if you you don’t like shrimp, I apologize. My plan was to resort to my archives of food photos and recipes to create a post, but the sheer awesomeness of these Po’boys we ate on Sunday night was resonating on the tip of my tongue. They were the epitome of summer deliciousness. Lightly fried shrimp, fresh vegetables and a tangy sauce. I want to eat these on the deck with a refreshing adult beverage. My reality is that we shoveled them down at our kitchen table while ducking the evening baby food chucking event, but a girl can dream. However and where ever you enjoy these, I promise you’ll do one thing; enjoy.

I did learn a valuable lesson while making these. The recipe makes a big deal about getting the temperature of your frying oil exactly right before frying. Now, I don’t do much frying, so I don’t have too much practice in this technique. When I do fry something, I follow what I thought were the rules, drop in a little breading, and if it sizzles, you’re ready to go. Too often, I drop in some breading, it sizzles, and then I put in my first batch, only to find the sizzle doesn’t last long, and my food is quickly taking on oil while the temperature continues to rise. For this recipe, I followed the instructions, and my oil was steaming, it lookes WAAAY too hot, and I thought for sure I was going to burn the shrimp. But, I dropped those suckers in, tossed them around for a few minutes, and they came out perfectly golden brown on the outside and juicy on the inside. I always knew that dropping food in oil would cause the temperature to drop, but now I realize compensating properly for that in the process of heating the oil is really key in obtaining the perfect golden brown!

Oh, and my husband always asks “so exactly what am I eating here?” (usually with half a mouth full, and his intonation describes whether he’s enjoying that mouthful or not). This time, I said “Shrimp Po’Boys”, to which he said over his second mouthful “What’s a Po’boy?” And I said, “I don’t know, just eat it!”. But, for you equally inquisitive (and for you dear husband, on the off chance you actually read my blog), here you go.

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Grrrrrrugh.

June 24, 2012

That was the only word I could come up with to describe where I was going with this blog post. It’s a combination of grrr and ugh, and is the word/sound that keeps rambling through my brain every time I think about how long it’s been since I’ve blogged (when the Oxford English Dictionary picks it up, remember you saw it here first). Here’s why:

1) Life has just been busy. Birthdays, vacations, leaving my day job, toddler who is into EVERYTHING (she’s napping right now, otherwise she would be inserting a cryptic 35746535743 after using the side number pad to pull herself up on my computer). Blah blah. We all have our time suckers.

2) More importantly, my zest for dinnertime is waning. You can thank the toddler. Starting around 5pm each day, instead of settling into dinner preparations, I’m settling into pour me a stiff drink anxiety mode. 5pm begins a 90 minute balancing act of preparing adult dinner, preparing baby dinner (and praying she’ll eat it, so I don’t have to move onto baby dinner #2), keeping the suddenly more portly dog from eating what “falls” (is thrown with great fervor) on to the floor, making sure the baby actually eats enough, and oh yeah, feeding myself (ie, shoving a now cold dinner down my gullet while keeping my kid from dunking her butt in the dog’s water bowl). All this while praying that maybe, just maybe, my husband will be home before baby bedtime once in a while. And no, ten minutes before doesn’t count. No more “tra la la dinnertime!” for this working gal, and my motivation to blog has gone out the window with it.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel (I hope). In 19 days we’re outta here. Out of the land of long boring days, where the husband works way too much (he’s working now), and there are not nearly enough resources to entertain a toddler. On to Dayton, OH, where we have high hopes for shorter hours, more activities to entertain, and a better life in general. Alas, with the end in sight, I realized we had a freezer and pantry full of food that should be consumed before we go. So, I sat down and sketched out a menu for the next three weeks. I realized that even if you’re not moving, it’s a good exercise to dig to the recesses of your refrigerator and pantry to do a little spring cleaning. Once you do, not only will you have a nice clean space, you might just have your menus planned for weeks! So, here’s my long-term menu plan:

6/24 – 6/30
Sunday- Shrimp Po Boys
Monday- Vegetable Lasagna
Tuesday- Mandarin Chicken from Trader Joes
Wednesday- Apricot Stuffed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
Thursday- Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
Friday- Homemade Pizza
Saturday- Friends in town- cook out!

7/1 – 7/7
Sunday- TBD
Monday- Grilled Chicken Salads
Tuesday- Upside Down Mushroom Tartlets
Wednesday- Bison Burgers
Thursday- Citrus Chicken with Salad
Friday- Trader Joes Pizza
Saturday- My cooking night off!

7/8 – 7/13
Sunday- Balsamic Steak Sandwiches
Monday- Something with chicken breasts
Tuesday- Trader Joes Beouf Bouginon (movers packing day 1, availability of pots and pans not guaranteed)
Wednesday- Vegetable Lasagna (made two weeks ago and frozen. Truck packing day, availability of plates and silverware questionable:-))
Thursday- Out to eat! (House will be empty. Husband still has to work one last day. Will be desperate to get out)
Friday- DEPART for greener pastures!

Weekly Menu 5/20 – 5/26

May 20, 2012

Weekly menu, and I promise a recipe this week!

Weekly Menu 5/20/12 – 5/26/12

Sunday: Marinated Flank Steak and Blue Cheese Salads
Monday: Rotisserie Chicken and sides (we have a busy Monday)
Tuesday: Cuban Quesadillas
Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Thursday: Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Sandwiches
Friday: Homemade Pizza with Caramelized Onions
Saturday: My night off!

Weekly Menu 5/6 – 5/12

May 6, 2012

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a weekly menu, and for that, I apologize. To be honest, these menu posts seem to get a bit less traffic than when I share recipes (rightfully so), so sometimes it feels like I’m just writing to myself. And maybe I am (crickets chirping).

However, my lack of posts doesn’t diminish my firm belief that weekly menu planning makes a world of difference in your kitchen. It means a more organized (and less stressful) grocery shopping experience, less money spent on random items you think you might eat, and less stress about meal times on a daily basis. I do still keep a dry erase menu on our refrigerator, just like when I started out, but I’ve also been thinking about upgrading to an electronic version. There are a few apps out there that offer the option to upload recipes and their ingredients, so when you place that dish on the menu it will automatically populate your electronic grocery list. From there you can modify the list to add or delete items you may or may not actually need. It sounds lovely, but all of these apps seem to have some holes in the reviews, so I’m not quite ready to make the leap and start uploading recipes. I’m still doing my research, but if you have a meal planning app that you love, please share it here! When I find one I love, I’ll be sure to share it.

For now, I just have this week’s menu to share, which includes a very exciting trip to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday next weekend! I can’t wait to celebrate AND find new inspiration while dining out!

Weekly Menu 5/6/12 – 5/12/12

Sunday: Chicken Stuffed with Pepperoncini and Goat Cheese
Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday: Paprika Grilled Shrimp Quesadillas
Wednesday: Balsamic Steak Sandwiches
Thursday: Citrus Chicken with Salad
Friday: Depart for weekend away!
Saturday: Birthday dinner out