wanting wednesdays

I’ve started taking an interest in cooking my own Indian food which means I need one of these
spice grinder
to grind my spices

and I could also use one of these
pressure cooker
apparently? I dunno why but one of Willy’s co-workers apparently uses hers non-stop.

I also need this
pizza tray
deep-sided pizza pan to make some chick pea bread I saw on the cooking channel.

top priority of the morning

ICE CREAM

The ice cream maker is about to be utilized. I am so freaking excited it’s not even funny!

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon making these
Two!
Which you know already if you are on my FB or Twitter (I couldn’t help myself, I was so excited about them).

Clearly I have gone off the crafty/domestic goddess deep-end over here.

ask (on the internets) and ye shall receive

The Wanting Wednesdays feature is not only a way to help my husband with an on-going gift list (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*) but also to share ideas and cool things I find with all of you, in addition to the things I put out there on Style Lush every week.

Sometimes, something very awesome happens and I actually get something off of these posts. This past week, I featured a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and what do you know? I now have one sitting in my kitchen at this very moment! My awesome friend Penny saw the post and called me up to tell me she had one she had only used once, wasn’t going to be using again (how can this be?) and would I like to take it off her hands? *squee* We drove down there yesterday afternoon to pick it up and visit, which would be awesome enough on its own but then she fed us too! RAD, no?

I am super stoked to come up with some fancy ice creams and see if they turn out as good as they seem in my mind. I even have my kitchen soul mate giving me her salted butterscotch recipe and a brown sugar vanilla ice cream base. I am drooling already. I think my first attempt is going to be my own version of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. I have fresh cherries in my fridge and I am going to use Lindt’s Salted Dark Chocolate as the chocolate chunks. I also have a craving for my Key Lime Icebox pie, so I might try that as an ice cream, or maybe I’ll just make the actual pie instead…who knows.

I can promise pictures and posts once the base gets frozen enough to get working on it. In case you aren’t on my twitter or FB, I also made an awesome compound butter for grilled corn the other day, so I’ll make it again, photo and post this week. Hope y’all had a great weekend!

you never know until it’s gone

Still not eating meat and for the most part, it’s been an easy transition, I don’t really miss it most days.

Sometimes, however, it surprises me the things I miss.

Beer brats
Pâté
Hebrew National Hot Dogs
Italian BMT subs
Meatloaf sandwiches

Things I miss that don’t surprise me

Herb-crusted pork tenderloin
Porchetta
BBQ from Salt Lick

The main thing is just the ease of being able to go anywhere anytime and eat easily. I don’t want to be anymore of a burden to friends or family than I already am with all my various freaking allergies. At home it’s getting easier to time meals and feed myself while still catering to the boys.

Saturday night I made black bean soft tacos topped with chipotle carrots. YUM! I highly recommend making the carrots as a topping for your own tacos in the future. They are super easy and very tasty.

Three ingredients: Marie’s coleslaw dressing, adobo sauce and matchstick carrots. Spicy, tangy and crunchy, yum!

I was also sent a recipe by a friend of a friend for Quinoa Granola that I made Saturday morning. It’s not sweet or sticky at all and when mixed with Greek yogurt has become my favorite breakfast. Super filling, high in fiber, good fats (with the nuts and Omega 3’s through the addition of ground flax) and hits a fruit requirement with dried cranberries and blueberries.

i’m going to the grocery store and i’m buying

The other day Jennie, of She Likes Purple, posed this question: “How do you not go broke feeding your family?”

Which I, of course, found fascinating. Being 1) a nerd that finds mundane information about other people’s lives interesting and 2) a person currently being eaten out of house and home by a teenager, I thought I might learn something new, or at least find some solidarity with a fellow sufferer. I was not disappointed by the comments that followed, many people shop at multiple stores, many people buy expensive but interesting ingredients and at least one person has teenagers that eat ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Seriously, ALL THE TIME.

We don’t have a set grocery budget, do you? I just pay attention to what I pay for an item at a certain store and then check it against all other stores I shop at, if I can get it cheaper, I adjust where I purchase it in the future. I shop at four stores: Target, Kroger, HEB and Costco. Say for example, the Late July Organic Sandwich Cookies. They cost $5.29 at HEB but they cost $3.99 at Kroger so obvs I will get them at Kroger instead of HEB now but my fave cereal Chocolate Chex costs $2.09 at HEB vs over $3 at Kroger (when they even carried it) and so on.

I purchase a lot of items in bulk, be it at Costco, the recently discovered Indi-Pak grocer, or the bulk bins at HEB.

I compare the per unit price on items instead of the list price because sometimes things seem like a good deal when they really aren’t.

I also cook most every day of the week and eating out (if any) for the weekends. Willy takes leftovers to work for lunches and I eat breakfast and lunches at home most every day as well.

I use coupons when I have them (and Kroger mails them to me as well as prints them when I check out).

What kind of shopper are you? Do you clearly know what you spend every month? I have no idea honestly. Our grocery chunk in our budgeting software rolls up our gas spending since we get it at Kroger, as well as all of my prescriptions since those are at Kroger as well, but I assume it’s quite a bit for a family of 3 with two bottomless pits and two fat butt dogs.

going vegetarian, going vegetarian, going vegetarian, i really think so

Brown rice porridge

So yeah, I’m giving up meat. It’s been over a week thus far and I am mostly doing okay with it. I had one REALLY bad night of what Alicia Silverstone refers to as “detox” where I was up with heinous stomach pains and restlessness. I went through my cupboards and found some Ayurvedic tea I had and that seems to have helped a lot. I drank MANY pots of that and probably will make myself another in a few minutes here. I’ve been reading The Kind Diet and I found it interesting. I have a lot of questions and I’m not sure that it answered all of them but I do like that it’s not forcing anything. She is big on the concept of “flirting” and letting people ease into things at their own speed as well as accepting that not everyone’s reasons for going into this lifestyle might be the same. I dig that concept.

I’ve tried this before, when I was a lot younger, with a lot less support and knowledge and I got wicked ill and had to give up on it after a year. I can tell you that the first cheeseburger I had after so long without meat was the worst thing I have eaten in my life.

Anyway, I am giving this a go as a way to try and deal with the digestive issues I have still been plagued with and the rampant lack of energy and the incessant teenage breakouts even though I am 35 years old. Wills has been totally supportive but I am not asking either of the boys to do this with me, their bodies, their choices (mostly, Sprog will be forced to eat as healthy as I can within reason). I am figuring out ways to sub my main food source with a veggie option and then keeping the rest of our dinners the same for the most part. I don’t want to cook two entirely separate meals either.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how much my local Kroger actually carries in this vein because Whole Foods is so far away from us and I was dreading having to deal with adding yet another store into my shopping. I’m scouring the internet for good looking recipes and figuring out how to tweak my own favorites and honestly it’s got me kind of excited about cooking again which is neat.

The pic above is my breakfast from this morning. Wild brown rice porridge with craisins, soy milk, toasted almonds and cinnamon. I finished it off with a dusting of freshly ground nutmeg and sweetened it with agave syrup. It was REALLY GOOD.

crack frittes

Crack Frittes

In a skillet over medium to medium high heat bring some olive oil to a ripple
add a handful, or a couple, of matchstick carrots (or some green beans, or asparagus spears)
cook while stirring with some tongs so that the veggies get evenly coated with oil
until heated through but still with some bite
remove from the oil and drain on a layer of paper towel
while still hot sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, cracked black pepper and herbs de provence (or just rosemary and thyme if you prefer)
hold either side of the paper towel and use that to toss the frittes in the seasonings until coated
inhale as quickly as possible

pulled pork nachos, tasty but not for the faint of heart

Pulled Pork Nachos

So, meet my new addiction, pulled pork nachos. I had this for dinner at the Burlesque show but was unimpressed; I knew I could make them better. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome these are, I think this is my most perfect meal: salty, tangy, sweet, creamy and crunchy.

I started with Hillary’s Crock-pot Pulled Porkand tweaked it a bit by adding apple cider vinegar, apple juice and cracked black peppercorns to the cooking liquid.

From there I also tweaked the BBQ sauce by adding dried mustard, ancho chile power and cumin.

Now for the rest:

Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Cheese sauce (melted velveeta with milk)
Cole-slaw (pre-packaged shred mix) with dressing made from mayo, sour cream, vinegar, celery seeds, sugar, thyme and black pepper (you could buy a pre-made dressing also)
Green Onions (to taste)
BBQ Baked Beans (Bush’s Baked Honey BBQ)

Layer a bunch of chips on a plate and then drizzle with the cheese sauce. You can add as much or as little as you want, but keep in mind it you put a lot it’s going to make your chips soggy. Now add your beans and pork, making sure to get some on every chip, follow with the cole-slaw. Once you have all that down drizzle with a bit more of the BBQ sauce (optional) and top with green onions.

feeding through a crisis

The funeral was Monday, people have returned to work, have returned to their homes and yet we are all still a little off center.

These past days have been exhausting…draining.

I have this thing about “being in crisis mode” that comes out in times of emotional upheaval…I need something to focus on, to get me through to the other side.

I’ve been cooking my way through this, feeding 10-20 people for days on end and the distraction has been useful…but it also helped me to feel closer to Maw-maw since she was the one that insisted on cooking for everyone every holiday.

I’ve made multiple batches of these in both chocolate and spice varieties. I’ve made a batch of these which makes me want to try them again but with a chocolate crust to see how it works. I’ve made 3 kinds of sausage, chili, corn souffle and cornbread. I’ve made pork tenderloin* that is so tasty and juicy that my 2 year old nephew ate as much as he could get his little mitts on even though he doesn’t like meat.

I’ve cooked so much that I took yesterday off (migraine fairy is SO EVIL) and am going to have to drag ass to get myself to cook tonight…but it was well worth it. It felt good to lift my mother-in-law’s burden and let her focus on what she needed to instead of worrying how she was going to get everything done.

I think Maw-maw would’ve been proud.

*as noted in the comments, this recipe is actually for a pork loin roast, not pork tenderloin as it’s titled. I adapted it for pork tenderloin by cooking it at 425 for 20 min and then dropping the temp to 400 until my meat thermometer registered the right temp. I also subbed tarragon for the basil listed and used all dried herbs with fresh garlic and olive oil.

wanting wednesday: just desserts

Strawberry tart

I recently bought pounds of produce from Costco and have been steadily working my way through it, which has been easier for some items than for others.

The grapes are an easy snack and can be popped at any time day or night but strawberries take a little more effort and honestly, I’m not the biggest fan. I love the smell of strawberries, I love the color and the look but sometimes they can be too tart and let’s be honest, the seeds get stuck in your teeth. Strawberries are a fruit that is best served as an accompaniment to something else, I find; chocolate, pound cake, pie crust or even ice cream, these things all make strawberries sing.

One of my favorite ways to eat them is warmed with balsamic vinegar and sugar, then served over the top of vanilla ice cream (Breyer’s Lactose Free Vanilla for me thanks). I’ve been making this rather often and got through most of the container this way but even still, last night I had a good portion of my 4 lbs left and I was worried about spoilage. My solution was to whip up a strawberry tart with fresh lemon zest, a splash of the balsamic instead of the juice of the lemon for the acid, a few blackberries, sugar, corn starch, flour and a refrigerated pie crust-super simple and sooo tasty.

We also had some fresh pineapple that was on the verge of spoilage as well (I prefer the core-it’s less acidic but it’s not the best for your digestion) so, for Wills, I caramelized chunks with brown sugar in a sauce pan until just soft and a golden color and then finished it with the juice and zest of half a lime. I poured this mixture over vanilla ice cream as well. Wills asked me to make it again tonight, so I’d say that is a rousing success.

The fact that I gained two pounds since yesterday? Totally blaming that on the new hormones I started and NOT the desserts. Totally.