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You know what I love?

Like, a lot?

Planning.

Nothing in life makes me happier than knowing exactly what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it.

Know what my husband hates?

Like more than anything?

Planning.

Yep.

I think it is one of about a million reasons that we make a perfect pair. He pushes me to be more adaptable, and to try to find comfort in doing something spontaneous from time to time.

I push him to organize and plan, and at least commit to certain big events prior to them occurring.

So, when I heard about nesting- you know, the uncontrollable urge that hits pregnant women to make their home ready for baby- both Brad and I had a good laugh.

I have been nesting my whole life.

Every Saturday, I spend most of the day doing the traditional “nesting” rituals.

Then this past Sunday, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

When this baby comes, I may not have time to spend hours in my beloved kitchen cooking up good for us delicious food. At least not for a while.

Momentary panic.

I desperately needed a plan.

Only a plan would bring me joy, peace, happiness and harmony once again.

So, I landed on make-ahead meals. And I plan to have as many  made as possible before the baby arrives.

That way, we can continue to eat home cooked meals without the stress of having to find the time to prepare them.

Just having the plan made me feel instantly better.

I believe a good make ahead meal can work for anyone.

Busy work schedule?

Busy with kiddos at home?

Travel often?

Kids activities after school?

No time or energy to cook at the end of the day?

If any of the above are you, then the make ahead meal can make your life.

Easier. Better. More nutritious. More delicious.

Here are the meals that I made last Sunday. They are all stored in air-tight containers in the freezer waiting for me to crack them open this summer.

First, meatballs and sauce.

This recipe requires your stove to be on for a few hours; however, it doesn’t require a careful eye. Once you pop the meatballs in the sauce, you can just let it all simmer away while you move on to other activities.

I made enough meatballs and sauce for at least 2 frozen meals, and we had some of those delicious balls this past week for dinner.

Anything I stick in my freezer, I like to label.

Ah, organization.

Happiness.

I put the name of what I made, how many servings are included, and the date that I popped the food in the freezer.

Everything should be eaten within 6 months of freezing.

Then, of course, I just shared with you that delectable spicy pulled pork.

Again, an extra 2 meals worth of food were put into the freezer.

Pulled pork tacos or a pulled pork sandwich will be in my future!

Then, I made one of my favorite summer treats.

The bacon, onion, and blue cheese stuffed burger.

Four patties for two people equals two meals!

Double bagged for air-tight assurance!

Finally, I made a quick and easy chicken dish.

This one comes from my gal Ina.

Put a 1/4 cup of olive oil into a bowl.

Then grab a beautiful yellow lemon.

Zest that lemon.

By the way, if you don’t own a microplane (what I’m using in the pic below to zest the lemon), go to Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond over the weekend and get one!

Now, cut that lemon in half and squeeze all of the juice into the oil.

Remove any pesky seeds.

Take a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Or oregano.

Or dill.

Or whatever you have.

And chop it up finely (about 1 t).

And toss that into the bowl.

Now grate two cloves of garlic over your microplane and into your bowl.

A sprinkle of salt…

And  a touch of pepper, and your marinate is complete.

Now take out two beautiful boneless skinless chicken breasts.

And place each one in their own Ziploc bag (their own bag will allow for a faster defrost time when you pull these out of the freezer).

Whisk up your marinade.

And divide it equally between the two bags of chicken.

Toss those into a larger Ziploc bag, give it a label and throw it in your freezer.

Yes folks. It is that easy.

1 day.

About 2 hours of hands-on cooking (the pork sat in the oven for much longer and the sauce sat on the stove much longer, but I was free to go about my day while those cooked).

2 meals for eating this past week.

And 7 meals for freezing.

Not too shabby.

And for a planner like me…

Oh, for a planner. This brought about great peace of mind. I can’t wait to do it all over again this weekend.

I would love to hear of any of your favorite make ahead/freezer friendly meals.

Thanks all!

I hope your weekend is shaping up to be lovely.

We are seeing a whole bunch of old friends tomorrow, and that makes me infinitely happy.

XO,

Leah

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We’re friends, right?

I can tell you things.

Like my deepest darkest secrets.

I can?

Perfect.

Here’s one: I generally don’t like salmon.

And I feel like I should.

Salmon is one of those foods on every list of stuff that is good for your body. It is low in calories yet high in protein. They also have lots of those good omega-3 fatty acids that we need from food (because our body doesn’t make it on it’s own).

So, here I am. A food lover.

A healthy gal.

Yet, I have had trouble jumping on the salmon train. Because salmon tastes like fish.

Bleck.

I don’t like fish to taste fishy.

Can I get a hallelujah?

A few months ago we had dinner at our friends, Jim and Abby’s house. We do dinner fairly frequently with these two, and it is fuu-uuun. Want to know why?

Because 1. Jim and Abby are fun.

And 2. Jim and Abby love food.

Then 3. Jim and Abby are adventurous eaters.

And 4. Artemis and Paolo- the two cutest ding-a-ling pups you have ever seen.

So, anywho… one dinner, Abby made the most delicious salmon I have ever had. And I don’t mean it was delicious for salmon.

It was so incredibly flavorful and wonderful that it changed my perspective on salmon. Forever.

So, I had the day off for Presidents’ Day (thanks so much Franklin Pierce), and I decided to make the main man and myself a delightful salmon lunch.

Courtesy of Ms. Abby.

Let me just say this. Besides being delectably delicious, this is sinfully easy.

You really have no reason not to try it.

Here is what you’ll need:

1 lb of salmon- feeds 2-3 people

1 T. oil

1 T. soy sauce

1 T. dijon mustard

1 T. honey

1 T. brown sugar

1 T. butter, melted

1 clove of garlic, diced

Get out a shallow pan to make the marinade. I used the same dish to marinade the fish as I did to make the marinade in.

Hooray for one less dish to do!

Add in your olive oil.

Then your soy sauce.

And then some dijon.

How about some honey, honey?

Gimme some sugar.

Plop your butter in a bowl.

Microwave until melted, and add it to the party.

Add in your garlic.

Give it a whisk.

Until it is all combined and looks like this.

Now, unwrap your fish.

Let’s chat a bit about fish, shall we? I buy my fish from one of two places exclusively.

1. Whole Foods (where this came from)

2. A local Fish Market- in Hyde Park for any of you Cincinnatians

Why?

Because both places have their fished shipped in twice a day. That means that it is about as fresh as Ohio fish can be. Also, both places are committed to getting only high quality fish in. There are very few farmed fish options, and if the fish is from a farm (and not from the ocean) it is cultivated using the highest standards and quality feeds.

So, there you have it.

Place the fish, flesh side down into the marinade for at least 15 minutes.

Do not marinate the fish any longer than an hour.

Why?

Because Abby says so.

Pop a lid or some plastic wrap on it, and put the pan in the fridge.

While that marinates, turn your broiler on to high.

Get out a broiler pan.

A broiler pan has a top pan with holes or slats for juices to drip through to a bottom pan.

I happen to have a small broiler pan that was the perfect size for this fish.

You should give it a quick once over with non-stick spray.

I did not do this step.

And I paid for it in manual pan cleaning labor later.

After your fish has marinated (I let mine go for about 30 min), take it out and lay it skin side down on your broiler pan.

Keep that marinade!!

Take a brush,

and slather more marinade on your fish.

Pop it into your oven for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, pull it out.

\

Brush on more of that salty delicious marinade.

Put it back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Then, pull it out again.

Brush it again.

Don’t be shy. Really slather it on there.

Finish it off for another 5 minutes.

It comes out looking like this.

(Although not so florescent. I was cooking on a very cloudy day so the lighting was weird).

That was a total of 15 minutes cooking time. 15 minutes will cook your fish to about medium doneness (for a filet about an inch thick) which I think is perfect. Medium doneness means a flaky yet moist fish.

Nothing makes a fish nastier than being dry.

If you don’t like medium, you can give your fish another 2 minutes or so. But you REALLY don’t want to overcook it.

Actually, that rule holds true to just about any protein.

Overcooking=dry, tough, nastiness.

Let the fish rest for 5 minutes. It will continue to cook just sitting there, and the resting will keep some moisture in.

I sliced off a chunk of the salmon, and I popped it on to a lovely green salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette.

Um, yeah.

It was good.

And good for me.

Can’t get much better than that.

Except, of course, if the picture would have turned out better. The fish was not radioactive and florescent.

Even though it looks that way.

Try something new this week.

You’ll be glad you did.

XO,
Leah

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