Spending Time in the Kitchen: Looking Back –and Forward- at Cooking in 2013 & 2014
I am a new contributor to Foodie.com a food & drink/cooking network and this is a post sponsored by Foodie.com. If you know me at all, you know that I don’t do anything I don’t believe in nor do I do anything I don’t want to do. I just had the opportunity to noodle around their site and find that they had tons of recipes that resonated with me – and gave me inspiration to write this post — and even better to think about cooking new things!
I love the concept of looking at recipes and getting inspired. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I have actually cooked much when I look at recipes. However when I cook, (which seems to be a bit more often lately since it’s been beastly cold here in Los Angeles), I have tried to replicate my fave dishes or spin them into new iterations. It’s much like how I create drinks. I take a recipe (food or cocktails) make it once according to the recipe and then turn around and spin it into my own iteration- which can be drastically different.
Want to know what’s inspired me? We had a new high-end grocery store (Gelsons) move into our ‘hood along with a newly remodeled Ralphs’ and Whole Foods is about half a mile away from both supermarket. The meaning of all this is that suddenly all three stores are upping the game to get and keep customers. I have never seen so much cheese, organic produce, interesting deli items (2 different kinds of fresh kale salads), cooked food for reheat or stuff for me to cook. It’s given me an A-HA moment!
While my fam doesn’t always appreciate those moments, the items that they do like varies from person to person but there’s always something in the frig they will eat. Between those stores and a couple of online brands (Robert Lambert Artisanal Foods and several smaller brands), I have enough *stuff* in the pantry, frig and freezer (typically bought on sale) to make just about anything pretty well.
Now if I am looking a recreating a specific recipe, I go all out and buy all the ingredients- but it’s rare that it happens more than once or twice. Typically that’s what I do with holiday dishes and particularly if I am having parties. It’s a way of featuring new things that aren’t boring for you (and/or family) to eat and it is easy on the reheat/left-over factor so that you don’t have to cook so much.
Here are a few recipes I am looking at trying from the Foodie.com site:
Get Into the Holiday Spirit! Cocktails (this one is from MY blog and it ran on Thanksgiving weekend. GREAT cocktails there!)
So here’s a quick list of a few recipes that I keep making in my kitchen:
Eggs + Kale + cheese.
Is everyone hungry but no one wants to cook and no one wants to step out the door for take-out? Here’s the super-fast way to cook eggs. Steam/saute kale in a skillet with some oil, water, spices (garlic is good) and veggies. (Leftovers are great for this). I try to have small cherry tomatoes from Trader Joe’s (heirloom or regular) so that I can toss those in for color as well and other veggies (squash, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets etc) from other meals. I cook all that up and then decide whether I am making omlettes, scrambled eggs or poached eggs– or which combination of the 3. Personally I find poached eggs are my favorite and I can use them to build sandwiches along with egg dishes and they nest well on a bed of cooked kale or spinach. With my microwave egg poacher, I can have 2 eggs done in 40-45 seconds!
Scrambled, fried or omlettes are pretty straight forward and I do mix in the veggies too.
I love cooking bacon and that’s a bit more time considering I use the microwave for that but it’s also a way to drain off the fat.
Sandwiches AKA Paninis
Give me two pieces of bread, some decent amount of leftovers (veggies, meat, cheese) in any combination and I can build up a great cold sandwich or pull out the Foreman Grill (I have had this grill for over 3 years!) and I whip out panini type sandwiches quite quickly! I can’t give you just one recipe– because it’s all DIY sort of stuff. If I have stuff that works from cheese (and a variety of those) to veggies, bacon, mushrooms and other layers, it’s all good.
The change comes when I want burgers. The grill has to be fired up outside, the buns toasted (and they have to be great buns) and I can make a killer burger.
Getting out the pots and pans
My pasta dishes like mac & cheese, Mexican and classic cooking (read meats, poultry and fish) are done the same way. Considering I am a carnivore who loves veggies and I have a dedicated carnivore in the house along with a vegetarian, it’s quite a juggle. But the basic premise for the ethnic type foods works pretty well — and what it doesn’t I have specialty soups and some frozen food that I can dress up. I am a cook who creates things on the fly:
frozen tilapia sprinkled with pink or coconut sea salt and wrapped in foil to hit the grill or in the microwave.
boneless chicken breasts that can be left whole, sliced or chunked into a bed of noodles and the sauce can be light Italian, Mexican or Thai.
Salads are a bed for the ultimate creativity because for me it’s the kitchen sink- or more accurately refrigerator.
What I am very very picky about is if I am mixing cocktails. I follow directions exactly unless I have made that drink at least 6 times. I am very good at coming up with a unique riff on a cocktail.
Here’s one for the holidays:
Eggnog with a twist: instead of whiskey or rum, try tequila (ask me for a recommendation- I tend to go gold/reposado on this) and with a splash of peppermint schnapps and mix it up into the best bottled (read real glass bottles in the milk section. I don’t remember the brand name but it’s about $7/quart and a little goes a long way. It’s the most authentic eggnog I have ever tasted). Add in some nutmeg on top and use a candy cane as a swizzle stick. Serve with a smile. Easily made virgin with just peppermint flavoring.
What am I looking at cooking for 2014?
Here are some of my favorite recipes from 2013 and I plan on trying and tweaking anything and everything that works with a crock pot, bbq and fun veggies like beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes– anything that has lots of vitamins along with a variety of cuts of meat.
My goals for 2014
to eat less meat (unless it’s organic and grass-fed) and focus on using it more as a side and feature more veggies.
I want to eat healthier with more grains; less processed food, a better eye on labels (and I can spot partially hydrogenated products before I see their label).
I have a BFF who is a personal trainer (@planetsharkfit ) who turned me onto a fabulous cereal (Uncle Sams – original – from Attune Foods) because it delivers a significant amount of protein in a nice crunchy, tasty package. I buy it by the case now.
I also have a juicer and a blender that get used fairly regularly to make rice protein-based smoothies mixed in with frozen & fresh fruit with things like kale tossed in to the mix.
How about you?
What are you fixing currently?
What’s on your radar for your time in the kitchen in 2014?
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