Time sure flies when you're tending to the every need of a miniature man. Who would have thought nursing every two hours would be the easy part? Now he needs three meals a day, still won't sleep through the night ( I can't let him cry) and considers me his personal human taxi service. It must be said, though... he's the best thing I ever baked and I am totally in love.
When I get a spare moment, I'm making every single recipe in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook but, for now, I'm doing what I can to whip up daily fresh orange and green mush for my growing boy. And, I think I hear him waking up... I'm out.
I'm back. Truth be told, I seriously haven't made a new recipe in months. I've been whipping up old standbys so I don't have to exert brain cells. I figure I have a good excuse, though... We're gonna have a baby!!! Come October, two become three and we can't wait. I totally love being pregnant. I feel so special and when I want mashed potatoes PRONTO, I get mashed potatoes pronto. Fortunately, I've had virtually no morning sickness ( only one episode, but I'm pretty sure that had to do with Taco Bell overload more than baby formation.) I was completely fatigued though for the first three months. Baby forming is tiring work.
Anyway, I'm still not quite back to my level of enthusiasm for trying new and complicated recipes and the summer heat is no time to be spent in the kitchen. That's why I love this salad that Aubrey and I invented. Heat involvement is limited, it's super filling, and perfectly summery. And, I can keep up the 2012 no recipe trend because this salad doesn't really have one.
But here's the gist:
Tropical Shrimp Salad
(Serves 1 hungry guy and 1 hungry pregnant person)
Generous Portion of Salad Greens ( I use 50/50 Spring Mix and Baby Spinach)
A variety of chopped fruit as long as you include mango ( because otherwise the "Tropical" title would just be dumb.) My favorite combo thus far has been red grapes, asian pear, and champagne mango.
About 1b. of large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on.
Awesome Shrimp marinade- Dijon Mustard, Soy Sauce, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Orange Marmalade, and Honey (optional) to taste. It should taste more sweet than mustardy so go easy on the mustard.
Delicious Dressing- Orange Juice, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Honey, Herbs De Provence, and a dash of crushed red pepper. Salt and Pepper to taste- Blend well- should total about 1/2 cup ( someday I will measure what I actually do here.)
Marinate shrimp and let set for 10 minutes or so, then skewer shrimp ( about 6 to a long skewer.)
In the meantime, chop up your fruit.
Arrange on greens like shown...
Grill Shrimp about 1 minute on each side and then place on salad. Don't forget the dressing!!!
And, that's it. It's amazing. I hope you'll try it!
It's a new year and time for a new college try at regular blog posting. I care less about you, dear readers, and more about myself, really. Do you know how many times I've freaked out having lost recipes I loved because I didn't blog them? Like, three times. It was horrible.
THIS recipe must not be lost. It's too good. In fact, it's super... as you'll soon find out for yourself.
3/4 cup heath bar, smashed ( can buy this way in the baking aisle- make sure it’s the bits that include the chocolate coating)
Optional: ½ cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips ( I didn’t include these)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon or fork, mix butter into the smashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, white sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Fold in ½ cup of the heath bar bits and chocolate chips ( if using) reserving ¼ cup of heath bar to sprinkle on top. Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin or 4x8 inch loaf pan and top with remaining heath bar. Bake for 1 hour ( or, 30-35 minutes for muffins.)
I've been trying to develop healthy snacks for Aubrey lately that don't cost a fortune because, well, the guy can eat. In high school, his friends told me he'd have a box of cereal for breakfast when us normal folk were simply having a bowl. So, throw in several hours of physical training per day as he goes through the new fire academy and you see what I've got on my hands here. I've been experimenting with different types of homemade granola and I think I now have a winning and wholesome combination. I've been holding off posting because I couldn't get the stuff to cluster and it would just spill everywhere when I'd eat it and the I.T. guys at work were probably sick of cleaning out my keyboard ( I once got a cornflake lodged under the "F" key for a week... it was reakin unny.) But, alas, I figured it out. Egg whites... not just for lame breakfasts!
You can do any fruit/nut combo you like with this base recipe but this is my fave.
Homemade Granola with Mango and Tart Cherries
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup quick oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup dried tart cherries, rough chopped
1/2 cup dried mango, rough chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/6 cup good honey
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
2 egg whites, whipped until foamy
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Toss the oats, coconut, walnuts, and dried fruit together in a large bowl. Pour the oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids.
3. Fold in the egg whites until coated.
4. Pour onto a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, covering with foil on areas getting done too quickly when needed, for about 25 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before disturbing the granola, ensuring that the egg whites set. Granola should form light clusters when scooped off. Store in an airtight container. The clusters won't survive extreme jostling but are perfect for easy snacking and won't break your teeth like the store-bought stuff. Yay!
P-Dub has done it again. And, before all you haters go off a-hatin' let's just appreciate the fact that the woman didn't make it on money alone... she's talented. Yeah, I said it.
I've been eye-balling her Spicy Dr. Pepper pork for months but haven't had much time to make anything involving more than 30 minutes of my time since Aubrey started the Fire Academy. Luckily, I worked from home today so at lunch, I popped this baby in the oven and by six it was falling off the bone and winning over my heart. And, it only took a whole 2 minutes to put in the pot. Seriously, quarter an onion, throw in the roast, open a couple cans of peppers and pour in some leftover RC cola from the fourth ( I didn't have Dr. Pepper.)
I had it with P-Dub's cilantro slaw sans red cabbage because apparently it's exclusive to Whole Foods in Tulsa and at $1.69 PER POUND, they can keep it.
Here's the link to the recipe. I halved the pork amount but kept the spice amount and it was SPICY. Almost too much even for me. But, it was so worth it. I highly recommend this one.
Aubrey and I recently took a U.K. trip and had an amazing time. We flew into London and rented a car to drive through England and Scotland with a flight out of Edinburgh. We had sort of a hellish return flight which warrants no further recollection but the trip itself was amazing. We had absolutely no plan other than to book it up to Manchester immediately after getting our car to watch Manchester United v. Chelsea at Old Trafford Stadium. (If you think you're gifted in the art of profanity, go to an English football match and get schooled.) After that, we were free to do whatever we desired for two weeks and it was heaven on earth. So here's a few of my favorite choices in England...
Getting a pint at the coolest pub that some how mixed diva wallpaper with old world rustic charm.
Discovering widespread availability of local cider. I thought I'd spend the whole trip with an empty hand at the pubs but was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this stuff. Plus, it was great to try the local brew in every city. The Cotswolds stuff has got to be the best in the world. I'm sure of it.
The Tower of London. If you pay admission for one thing in all of England, make it this. Crown Jewels, intense historical significance, a superb cafeteria on the grounds...yum. We spent a whole day here. And, yes, I know this isn't a representative picture of the Tower but look at those doors!
Walking. Seriously! The national pastime of England is walking which sounded a bit weird to me until I discovered that they know how to do it right. There are public footpaths through most of the countryside where you can walk through private property and from town to town. It was gorgeous.
These pics are currently serving as decorating inspiration for me. In fact, the whole trip is inspiring. I have to go hang a curtain rod!
Guess what? I'm in Boston. Guess what else? I've got food on the mind. Here's some good stuff I ate over the last couple of days...
Legal Seafood in the airport really delivers, especially for terminal fare! Way better than McDonalds or Chili's To-Go. I'd give the chowder a "7" for the clam chunks but it was lacking in heft and seasoning. Their crabcakes were pretty good, too, but they've got nothing on The Original Pierre Maspero's in New Orleans. Nothing. I'm sort of a crabcake snob but I couldn't tell you my criteria. It's just good, better, or best.
Sourdough makes my heart sing. As does butter served room temperature. I'm a bit of a butter snob, too. Cold butter is high on my list of restaurant pet peeves...right under the dreaded half-serve ( where only half the people get their food and awkwardness ensues- We'll wait for yours...no really, go ahead and eat... are you sure? )
This was the Funghi pizza at Pasta Beach where I ate way too much, drank way too much ( iced tea) and waddled all the way back to my temporary home. Also, they had beautiful paint colors- striped cream and grey with colorful coastal art. They also had very fresh and tidy looking desserts but unfortunately I had no more room. Oh well, I have four more days here to practice belly space management!
I’ve lost a lot of sleep lately with anxiety manifesting itself in the form of interior decorating. Paint color to be exact. It’s been a year since we moved in and it’s time to finish this madness. Do you know how many shades of white have been invented? Too many. You see, it took a long time for me to even get to white. And, even so, it’s now turned to vanilla cream or canvas. Though, hazy sky and urban putty keep creeping in and laughing at me behind my back.
I’ve now employed my friend, Sindy, to help navigate my twisted style preferences of the day. She’s pretty handy since she accepts payment in the form of rugs I buy but no longer like or for which I have no more room. Her weapon of choice is asking me what I like. And, that’s the problem.
I like so many things, I can’t narrow it down. My husband’s patience and our funds are wearing thin with my failed attempts. I’m starting to think the problem is that I’ve been lacking the courage to determine what I don’t like in order to rule crap out. I’m not really one for passing judgment easily which is a trait I usually value in myself. The down side is an extreme undermining of my self-judgment, as of late. So, I told this to a therapist and she ended up telling me all about herself for a full half-hour and told me I should be doing this and should be doing that, which included her recommending I get a colorful couch like hers which happened to be a repeating pattern of montaged Monet. This is when I decided I didn’t need to go back to her despite her slow, concerned insistence that I was going through sooooo much and should really see her for the duration of my free sessions I get through work. Bottom-line, that couch was fugly. And, there it was. The spark of hope that I could make a judgment and be completely okay with it.
I didn’t think about that again until today but that freedom to judge, to make mistakes, to try and try again is precisely what I love about cooking. It’s up to me. If I screw up, there’s another meal in a few hours to try again. Some mistakes are beautiful. Sometimes, I enjoy just being surrounded with gorgeous ingredients. I don’t obsess. I just flow. This is the same feeling I have when traveling with Aubrey. Judgment without fear or guilt, knowing that whatever way we decide to turn, wherever we decide to sleep, however we get there, we’re gonna love every second of it. Maybe it’s not so much the knowing but the decision to love every second of it that counts. Maybe its allowing something to be without definition. Damn. I’m already better than my therapist.
So, that was the lately and here’s the candor...
My parents are getting divorced after about 30 years together and it's messing with me in weird and deep ways.
So, interpret my decorating dillema as you will.
Also, I sorta hate writing this blog. Not so much the idea of writing, because I love writing. And, not so much the topic of Aubrey, food, and travel, because I love these, too. In fact, these are things I am most sure of in my entire life. It’s more about what the idea of this blog meant to me. I approached this thing with extreme ambition, over-thought, and under-execution. Sorta like decorating… hmmm?!?
I took tap lessons when I was younger and got really mad at my instructor because she made me shuffle, ball, heel all flippin’ lesson when all I wanted to do was go Shirley Temple on her ass. It wasn’t that I thought I was advanced. I loved learning. I was just really embarrassed at displaying my lack of skill in front of everyone in the meantime… I wanted to learn in private.
Confession: I used to watch my traffic counts daily. If that's not the cart before the horse I don't know what is. I fantasized about being the next Pioneer Woman. This is embarrassing to admit but I bet I’m not alone in this feeling, especially among the many budding food bloggers out there. The internet is the great equalizer. Anyone can make it in the age of reality stars and American Idol, after all. So, I picked a name. I picked a theme. I picked a differentiating factor. I felt regret for not having a comprehensive business plan or the time to conduct the necessary market research. In other words, I turned this into a work ambition and I started to hate doing it. I hate the disappointment I feel when my posts are lame, when my voice is forced, or when I hear the ring of inauthenticity in my tone. I hate the guilt I feel when I don’t post. Ugh.
I don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen any more than I know what I’m doing when I travel or when I’m buying rugs or paint or trying to figure myself out. I’ve just embraced enjoying the process and the beauty of the kitchen and travel (I’ll get there with the others.) I don’t like writing like I know anything and for some reason I've felt compelled to write this way. I much prefer learning as I go and now I’m feeling comfortable doing it out loud without boundaries or embarrassment. I don't know if you'll see changes but I'll feel changes so that's good. Trusty 44 followers... thanks for taking this journey with me. I’m deciding to have some fun with it now. Also, please don't worry about me unless I start posting videos like this:
I decided to quit buying Naan for my pizza endeavors and just started making my own. I've done P-Dub's Basic Pizza Crust and it's pretty tasty. I'm still working out the kinks on how to make it crispy on the bottom but, generally it's pretty perfect (Someday, I'll quit being lazy and I'll dig out my pizza stone.) Today, we incorporated kale which was weird but I felt really healthy afterward, despite the massive cheese intake. Total combo included kale, tomatoes, red onion, crimini mushrooms, minced garlic, sundried tomato, and basil pesto base. WHY NOT? It was great.
Sometimes I get mad cravings for delicious crusty bread lathered in expensive butter that's so delicious it tastes like cheese. This is one of those times. I'm too lazy to go start myself a round of 5 minutes a day bread or the go to No-knead so I'm just gonna satisfy myself by checking out these loaves of days gone by...
Ugh. No satisfaction. Must start on that "year of the perfect crust" thing...