Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kitchen, lately

My January had some high points, but it was generally gross, uninspiring and annoying.

I should probably be more positive about it, the first month of 2013 and all, but I prefer to be real when I blog. Reality: January was a punk. Looking forward to turning the calendar tomorrow.

One place where January didn't completely suck was in the kitchen. Something about this time of year makes it a damn good time to break out the mixer and hang out with the oven. Maybe because it's warm. I don't know. Whatever the reason, it results in a lot of damn fine food.

I'm always good with that.

I don't really have any good reason for sharing except that, in years past, I've made resolutions to cook more and so I guess I'm just in the habit of sharing recipes and really bad pictures. Sorry about that.

I was at Mom and Dad's house on a Sunday in late December when I threw together a really simple baked Brie using leftover cranberry sauce from Christmas and almonds and inspiration from this recipe. The cranberry sauce gave it a tart kick that my baked brie -- which I usually make with dried cranberries and toasted pecans on the top -- doesn't usually have. Winner.

I made the world's largest caprese salad for Baby A's first birthday party. It needed more balsamic vinegar. I tossed the leftovers with a bit of pasta and it made a rather fabulous lunch.

I was at Mom and Dad's house one weekend and my mom kept trying to get me to take home a bunch of fresh spinach. I never buy fresh spinach without a recipe in mind. I did a quick search on Pinterest, found a recipe for crustless quiche that, miraculously, I had all of the ingredients for and decided to give it a try. It actually turned out to be quite tasty.

A few days after I conquered the crustless quiche, I had to run to Mom and Dad's house for one reason or another. My mom was still at the gym, putting my father in charge of making them dinner for the night. My dad always tries hard but -- um -- yikes. Baked potato, frozen vegetables, pale gross chicken breast. Every time. To save my mother (and myself) from the suffering, I volunteered my services. He had picked up a rotisserie chicken from Costco on his way home. There was still a heavy supply of spinach in the house. Another Pinterest search brought me to this recipe, and it was delicious. I substituted in whole wheat shells for the egg noodles and I used panko on the top instead of regular bread crumbs.

Whenever I cook for my parents, I can usually come up with a dish that my mom likes but my dad hates, but this was the rare gem that they both enjoyed. I was proud of myself for days.

One of my resolutions for 2013 was to make 12 recipes that I found in a cookbook. This
chocolate-pistachio biscotti recipe was from Martha Stewart's Cookies and SO DELICIOUS. I neglected to take a picture because I was too busy devouring it. It earned high praise from Lucy, Chet and Liz, too. Sorry for stealing your picture, Martha. And thanks for the recipe.
Then I was on a roll and made another recipe from a cookbook (that's right, 2 of 12), this time Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's. Marvelously easy chicken tortilla soup. I don't know how a sane person could ever complain about a meal that is designed to be sprinkled with tortilla chips.

So then I was feeling really great about myself and made Martha Stewart's icebox cookies just because. Also from her Cookies cookbook. That's 3 recipes out of the 12 I hoped to cook from a cookbook this year, for those of you keeping track at home. Also: cute, no?

And, finally, there was the food that I made for today. The food that I brought to Coworker B's last day celebration extravaganza. Coworker B is a bit of a health nut, so I knew bringing in a few dozen cupcakes wasn't going to do it.

I went with a few old favorites that I thought most everyone would enjoy. Pictured above (in the right, middle) the five-layer Greek dip that I made last year. You've probably seen it all over Pinterest. It's really easy, it's really pretty and it's a pretty safe choice. It was completely demolished, so I felt pretty good about that selection.

In the bottom left of the picture above, you'll see the Moroccan carrot dip that I've also previously blogged about making. I still love it. It's almost entirely carrots, so it's quite healthy but also sweet and full of good flavor. A little bit of a risky choice for a work event, but people seemed to like it.

Finally, in the top left of that picture is a new recipe. A new favorite recipe. These bar nuts are unreal. First of all, they're terribly easy to make. Secondly, they're addictive. The perfect sweet to salty ratio. If you're going to a Super Bowl party this weekend, bake up a batch. You'll be a hero.

I made a batch on Monday night to take over to Lucy and Chet's on Tuesday (we had a date to finish up the first season of The Killing) and then I made a double batch on Wednesday morning to bring to work today. I've basically spent my entire paycheck on a walnuts, almonds and cashews and I don't even care.

And that makes it official, you guys: all I did in January was prepare food and eat food.


Anonymous said...

They all look yummy! I think we have the same taste in food! Glad that January is over, too.

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