Monday, March 19, 2018

Vietnamese Lettuce Cups

Last week, I made Vietnamese Lettuce Cups, with Quick-Pickled Carrot Strings from Nom Nom Paleo. Nothing crazy was going on in this recipe, so I was pretty confident that it would be more edible than that meatloaf. I'm still not over the meatloaf.
Pretty standard.

The main flavors were fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, mint, and basil. I felt like they needed a little extra something. Some heat? I suppose that's why she recommends eating them with Paleo Sriracha. I'd already made some pickled carrots for this (which were very good.) I didn't have time to make condiments, as well. More of everything might have also helped. That said, the kids both ate this mixed with brown rice, and didn't complain. My favorite part about them was the crunchy little sweet bits of diced apple. They were a lovely surprise.
Seriously. Go eat your own.
The portion size on this seemed off to me. Matt was away, so I fed myself and two children, but had less than a cup of meat leftover. This is supposed to feed 4. I assume those 4 people are intended to be adults? I mean, I don't think this is meant to be served as a component of a meal. It's the whole meal, right? Ground pork and lettuce and carrots is NOT FILLING.

Conclusion: I liked the Quick Pickled Carrot Strings, but thought the Vietnamese Lettuce Cups were Just Okay.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Waste of Expensive Bacon

Brace yourselves for a tale of woe.

When I read through the recipe for Super Porktastic Meatloaf, I thought, "I like pork." My next thought was, "Wow, there are a lot of vegetables in this meatloaf. Mushrooms and onions cooked in ghee? Okay, I'm with you. Defrosted frozen spinach? Weird, but maybe. A puree of celery, parsley, and coconut cream? Um. Um. Ew. Um. Okay. Okay. Let's go with it."

Shouldn't have gone with it.
Stop now, and throw it out.
This meatloaf was N-A-S-T-Y. We couldn't eat it, it was so disgusting. Matt and I will usually power through and not waste food. We couldn't take a second bite of this. I can't even explain the layers of depravity involved in this meatloaf. It was wet, despite my wringing out of the spinach. The flavor was horrible. The texture was mushy. It's in my top 5 most horrible things I've ever eaten, right up there next to tripe.
Bacon can't save you.
Fortunately, there was a little leftover pork loin in the fridge, and leftover pizza for the kids. 

To make matters worse, I cooked this on Wednesday, knowing that my Thursday was going to be insane, so I was planning on eating the leftovers. I had no other food prepped for yesterday. In any healthy eating lifestyle, meal prep is super important. I don't know if it's MORE important with paleo/whole 30, but I do know that, apart from fruit, raw veg, and nuts, there aren't many grab-and-go options. Yesterday was a struggle. Today, I'm roasting every vegetable in my fridge. I will not be left unprepared again!

On Whole30, you can't buy normal bacon. Oh, no. You need sugar-free bacon. Did you know that there's sugar in normal bacon? There is. Sugar free bacon is fricken expensive. I wasted 6 strips of it on this monstrosity.

Conclusion: Hated it. If I had a category that was lower than Hated it, this would be there. Wish me better luck tonight.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Tuesdays with Dorie: Apple Weekend Cake

I'd previously mentioned that, given my newfound efforts to balance my exercise/healthy eating/baking interests, I'm going to try to keep up with the Tuesdays with Dorie schedule as they bake from Baking, Chez Moi every two weeks. The recipes that I  missed, I absolve myself of. There are too many. I'll never catch up. I'm just going to try and participate going forward.

I was delighted to see that the recipe chosen for this week was Apple Weekend Cake. Since I had a bunch of people over for brunch a week ago, this seemed like a perfect addition to the table. It's an unassuming little loaf cake that didn't attract much attention, with all the other more dramatic offerings on the table (homemade bagels! A mountain of bacon! Two dozen gorgeous donuts!). I think that most of what was missing from the cake was eaten by my two kids before anyone else arrived.
I'll take a plain loaf cake over a frosted, tiered behemoth anytime.
 Simple as it looks, this little cake is lovely. I'm always impressed by the things Dorie does with apples. So many of her recipes taste so cleanly of apple, without being muddied up by other flavors. There's a bit of cinnamon in here, but it's a supporting note. This was moist, simple, and perfect with a cup of coffee. The other half is sitting in the freezer, waiting for someone to come have coffee with me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

First Forays

Well, look at that! I came back! That, my friends, is a step in the right direction.

I've cooked a few things from Nom Nom Paleo since we last spoke.

The best of the bunch was the Roast Beast. I followed this more for the method of cooking it at a low temp for a long time, than for the details. She rubs hers with dukkah. I didn't have dukkah, or the ingredients to make my own, so I rubbed my beef down with my own spice blend. I also was not able to put it on a wire rack in the oven, because mine do not look oven-proof, and I didn't feel like taking chances. I also wasn't able to let it sit for 15 minutes once it was out of the oven, because the children were turning ravenous. I still contend that I followed the recipe. HA!

Conclusion: A strong Liked it. This may be my new go-to method from now on, time-willing. Despite my tinkering, the meat came out tender and pink and juicy. I'm sure it would have been even juicier if I'd let it sit, because a ton of liquid seeped out when I cut it.
With it, I made Garlic Mashed Cauliflower. I tried to make mashed cauliflower once, 15 years ago, and thought it was NASTY. I never made it again. This does not and can not compete with actual mashed potatoes, and anyone who says that they're close has never had good mashed potatoes, but, if I thought of this as some other food, this was pretty good. If it didn't have a hit of nutmeg, I don't know that it would have enough flavor, but as it stands, this was pretty good.

Conclusion: Liked it.

Last night, I made Coconut Pineapple "Rice". I've become a really big fan of cauliflower rice in the past year, and make it almost anytime I cook something saucy (thank you Costco, for your frozen bags of cauliflower rice). I thought this sounded like an interesting variation, but honestly, it didn't turn out so well. I followed the short-end of her cook time, and the cauliflower was straight-up mushy. Blech. My pineapple wasn't sweet enough to lend good flavor, and the whole thing just tasted bland. The hint of onion from the scallions did not go very well with pineapple.
Conclusion: Disliked. I wouldn't make it again.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I'm Back...Again

I feel like my head is all over the place lately. I'd tried to return to my other blog, about life, but when you're not going off on European adventures, and you don't want to get super personal with the great wide world about people and feelings and such, it's hard to think up anything engaging to say. Historically, I'm guilty of starting things that I don't finish. Often. You may have guessed that about me. It's one of the things I like least about myself. Honestly, I'm afraid to publicize in any way that I'm considering re-starting this blog, because who would even believe me anymore? I've come and gone so often! It was just a few months ago that I'd announced I was re-starting Mandatory Fun, and then let it fizzle out. Again. Oy.

The kitchen is still my happy place, and I miss having a little writing space, even if it's "just" a cooking blog. I REALLY miss the sense of fellowship that I had with the French Fridays with Dorie crew, back in the day. Dorie has a new book coming out in the Fall. Who knows? Maybe the band'll get back together to cook through it.

Batman and I have our own side project of working through Dorie's Cookies, so I don't intend to follow the Tuesdays with Dorie group's schedule for that, but I thought the other day, "Oh, I'll catch up with what they've made from Baking, Chez Moi." Ha! Hahahahahahaha!
This is how many recipes I've missed. Unattainable goal, at this point.
Too much time has passed since I last kept up with them. I'll never make up the ground. I think I'm just going to look forward, and try to bake future recipes with the group. The problem with this is that I've been really tight with my nutrition and exercise lately, and weekly bake-alongs don't really jive with that. I MISS baking, though. I've been doing mostly Whole30 and paleo eating since June, and I feel like I need to figure out a way to bring things into balance. I have a history of compulsively inhaling all baked goods in my path, which Whole30 has given me much greater control over. We'll see how it goes. If I can't have a piece of cake and be done, I'll have to step away from the Doristas again. If I CAN, then awesome!

I'd tried in the past few months to cook along with the Food52 cookbook club, as well as the club from Tasting Table, but my efforts to eat primarily paleo (because it makes my body feel good), kept me from participating much. In case you're wondering, Mastering the Art of French Cooking is NOT paleo friendly. So much cream. So much cheese. Lovely, lovely cheese.

I'm rambling. Like I said, my head is all over the place. 

So here's my plan. I'm going back to how I started this blog. I'll cook as much as I can from one particular book for a month, and see if it wins me over. The books I pick will be ones that support my current nutrition goals. So, first up, after an exceptionally long hiatus:
This book has a comic book type format that's kind of cute to begin with, but when I actually used it to cook a recipe yesterday, it was a little hard to follow along. Maybe I just have to get used to it.

For the record, the Yankee Pot Roast smelled bomb while it was cooking. It was different from other pot roasts I've made in that it goes heavy on the balsamic vinegar (no complaints here), and calls for dried porcini mushrooms. I busted out one of my last bags of dried porcini that I packed when we moved back to the US from Italy, so I was a little sad that they were unnoticeable in the finished product. In general, I'd have preferred a load of more carrots in there. The flavor of the meat was really delicious, though, and both kids ate it.
Have I even mentioned on this blog that I've had a second kid? He's almost 2 now. LOL We'll call him Nugget, and he eats everything in sight. Literally everything. He was licking the dog's bowl a few days ago. Nasty. And Batman still won't eat anything. That's not true. He's actually getting a lot better about being willing to try things and admitting if he DOES actually like something. He's still the slowest eater to ever walk the earth, though.

As far as the pot roast goes, Conclusion: Liked it. Charlie Approved.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My Paris Kitchen: Galettes and Slaw

This post will likely be brief. I'm attempting to draft it on my phone. I hate typing on my phone, but I'm applying the same thought process to this post as I am to emails to my 2 dear long-distance friends who refuse to join Facebook (!!!). Namely, that I need to stop waiting until I find time to sit at the computer, because it'll never happen. Emails don't have to be comprehensive--just send SOMETHING. So, same with this. Currently writing this left-handed, while nursing, before managing to get downstairs for coffee, so if it's a series of lines of gibberish, I apologize.

Also, I don't have Lebovitz's book in front of me, so you'll have to buy the. book or head over to Cook the Book Friday's if you want details.

I made the slaw with garlic dressing two weeks ago, but never posted. I don't love slaw. Any slaw. This one was good, as far as it goes, but the leftovers languished in the fridge (and turned brown because of the apple.) I did enjoy the colors, as I used red cabbage, broccoli, and carrots. Didn't take a picture, though. Oops.

This week's recipe was for buckwheat crepes with ham, cheese, and eggs. I found them tricky to make, but delicious too eat. The baby is not compliant with on-the-spot cooking at the moment, and I grossly underestimated how long it would take the egg whites to set. I felt like u was standing at the stove an eternity while Oliver screamed from the other room. Also, by the time the eggs set, the crepe was crispy, and it was hard to fold the edges without snapping them off.

We enjoyed these, though I doubt I'll make them again until things slow down.

Odd. I DO have a photo, but the program isn't letting me access the pics on my phone. If I ever get to the computer, I'll add it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Paris Kitchen: Fattoush and Chicken Lady Chicken

I feel pretty accomplished. Not only have I managed to keep this alive for a month:
but I also cooked the two recipes from My Paris Kitchen that were on the docket for June.

Up first, albeit, late, was Fattoush, a delightful, crunchy salad that involves lots of herbs (mint and parsley, and I threw in basil, because I had it), radishes, cucumbers, scallions, sumac, and, most importantly, toasted pita bread. I took a cue from some of the French Fridays crew, skipped a step, and just used pita chips. I make no apology for that. I also added chicken. This was very tasty, and I appreciated that I could chop things throughout the day, as my hands were free, and pull it all together at dinnertime. Matt and I both enjoyed this, and it felt clean and virtuous to eat. Unfortunately, we were both starving again two hours later, and each had a hot dog. Woops. So much for nutritional virtue.
I also made Chicken Lady Chicken, which is meant to be a whole chicken, marinated for 1-2 days in an intriguing mixture of garlic, oil, lemon juice, wine, soy sauce, sriracha, mustard, and honey, browned on the stove, and then baked in the oven.

I had the butcher cut my chicken into pieces, because I knew I wasn't going to have time/the will to removing backbones and cracking breasts. I also only marinated the chicken for about five hours. I'm sure it would have been even better with a longer soak, but it was pretty delicious (and smelled amazing), regardless.
As with the fattoush, I appreciated how low maintenance this recipe was. It was pretty easy to complete, even with the bambino around, and the leftovers made a very tasty chicken salad for the next day's lunch.

Now, if only all the recipes in the book were as conducive to cooking with a newborn...