Thursday, April 21, 2011

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: March

April is getting the best of me. March’s workplace insanity spilled over into April. There has been the job interview and job offer and job quitting. There has been The Coach. There’s been the start of my soccer season and dinners out with Lucy and a hockey tournament and it was my cousin Anna’s birthday on Tuesday and I haven’t even called her because, in my mind, it is April 8. Maybe April 10. There is no way we’re 21 days into April. No way.

Can’t be.

While I scarcely remember March, it does appear that I spent a few hours in the kitchen making good on my 2011 resolution to make one big meal every week. Considering how late this is, I’m awfully glad that I kept copious notes!

March started out at Mom and Dad’s house, where I was looking after the dogs while they were in California. Meg was in and out all that week, so I made us a batch of Paula Deen’s Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese as a special treat. A very special treat. That shit is magical and delicious and should not be consumed on a regular basis. But, oh, how I love it. It is my standby recipe for work potlucks and for picky Colleen’s birthday and when I’m really in need of a bit of comfort food. As far as I am concerned, comfort food is a synonym for cheese.

In the second week of March, I made Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chile from a recipe that I found at Tasty Kitchen. I cannot recall exactly what inspired me to make this recipe, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it was one of two things:
1. The promise of garnishing the chili with avocado (easily one of my top 10 favorite foods)
2. Knowledge that many of the ingredients were already in my pantry

I thought it was a decent recipe and it made a ton. Next time, I’d throw half of the recipe into the freezer straightaway.

During week three, I found myself back at the always wonderful Iowa Girl Eats, printing out the recipe for Bruschetta Chicken Pasta. So, so, so good. The Bruschetta Chicken Pasta is pretty much my ideal meal: fresh and healthy and heavy on the pasta. (Which, I should note, I substituted for whole wheat pasta because that’s how I roll.) I absolutely adored this dish, happily eating it for lunches. Sometimes cold. Sometimes hot. Always awesome.

When week four rolled around, I had nothing in mind and was waiting for inspiration to strike when I was flipping through my mom’s copy of the January, 2011 issue of Everyday Food. (Pretty sure I bought her that subscription. Pretty sure it was for selfish reasons.) Anyway, I came across this recipe for Marrakesh Stew that I decided to make. Even though I have little to no experience with Moroccan food, the ingredient list was filled with many of my favorite foods and spices so I decided that I would give it a try. Brilliant decision. It wasn’t exactly the most beautiful dish to look at, but the flavors in this dish were so deliciously complex. I loved it. But it wasn’t one of those meals that you could whip up for just anyone. My best friend the adventurous eater? Yes. The majority of my let’s-stick-to-the-American-fare family? Probably not.

In week five, I was back at Iowa Girl Eats, trying out Make-Ahead Chicken & Spinach Artichoke Casserole! Which I definitely made late one night after soccer, cooking it when I got up the next morning. I had some for breakfast before packing it up for my lunch. Classy? Totally classy.

I used whole wheat pasta in this recipe, too. (I hardly eat regular pasta anymore.) And I put panko on the top instead of breadcrumbs because I’m lazy and I had them in my pantry and that just seemed easier.

Since I’m already sharing recipes, I might as well pass along a few others that I used in March. First off, an old friend from Simply Recipes: cheesy bread! Easiest appetizer ever and it makes everyone who has a slice do back flips. I brought it over to my friend Heather’s house and then I was a star. More so than usual, I mean.

One March night when I had a little time to spare before I was to see The King’s Speech with Lucy, I was staring forlornly at the overripe bananas sitting on the counter and I knew that I needed to make them into something delicious. That wouldn’t take a crap-ton of time to bake like banana bread would. A little searching pulled up these Banana Crumb Muffins that were pretty much as complicated as throwing the bananas away would have been. And also they were good. And so I won.

I did a lot of winning in the kitchen in March, as a matter of fact. I’m not sure if I’m just really lucky at finding great recipes or if I’m so skilled in the kitchen that anything I make turns to culinary gold. But this might have something to do with the fact that I will eat just about anything. Maybe next time I’ll post a disclaimer.

You know what else I’m doing next time? Posting pictures. Girl From Florida gets what Girl From Florida wants!


k said...

I give you lots of props for cooking so much. Having a life that is comparably as busy as yours, I feel like I never have the time or energy to cook. And it all sounds so yummy!

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