Right now you might be wondering if I’m a teacher–do I get summers off or something? Where have I been? The last time I posted a recipe was June 22, over two weeks ago.
It’s not exactly how I want it in my ideal world. NCK is constantly teetering on the brink of hobby and full-time job, and you know what? That’s probably not going to change quickly.
As much as I love pouring my heart into the blog, using it as a platform to share my new and old favorite recipes and to try to make the food photos look like you want to take a bite out of them, I try to keep perspective. Intentions to “work ahead” (as if it’s a school project) predictably fall through when life fills up with other great opportunities: a visit to my home state for great food and family, a visit from my sister and her hubby to road trip to Boston for an oh-so-American fourth of July, an offer to teach a cooking class for a massive bridal shower, cooking for friends in need, a visit from my mom to see our house for the first time (we moved in last November), and, strangely, a little event planning which I never thought I had in me. Basically, July = cr-azy.
I’m not sure life’s pace will stay this harried for long, but, as I sat down to plan dinners for this week, even amidst all the activity (especially amidst all the activity), I was reminded of the importance of freezer cooking in bulk.
In the winter I’m an expert at freezing chili, soups, and all manner of hot dish (the plural of hot dish is hot dish: fact) so we’re armed and ready to eat even when life is chock full of good stuff besides food. For some reason, it’s harder in the summer, which seems to be my “busy season”. Unpleasant throwback to my old tax accounting days.
I’m doubling up on a couple recipes this week, because hey, if I’m already making it, cooking twice as much adds hardly any extra effort or time, save for chopping an extra onion or washing a few more veggies. As long as Stevie doesn’t find me out, I’ll slip the extra portions, individually packaged, if I’m feeling ambitious, into the freezer for whatever next week (or tomorrow) brings.
This whole epiphany makes for a helpful post, one I plan to flip back to as I up my summer freezer cooking game. It’s so nice to just pop my head back in and say hi, even if this isn’t a real recipe post. It definitely reflects the reality of my life right now, and hopefully it will help you enjoy yours, with less takeout, too!
Starting it off with a classic hot dish favorite. Recipe here.
I’m making it this week with (gasp!) real whole wheat pasta, instead of squash. Recipe here.
For no apparent reason other than maybe a subconscious longing for carefree college summers, the grape ape has been on my mind lately.
I’m not kidding.
When I’m in the mood for a cocktail at the bar, I lack the confidence of a signature drink and usually spend five to ten minutes consulting with my cohorts or weighing the merits of tequila versus vodka (tequila usually wins) or purusing the cocktail list, if there is one. So maybe it was in the context of that dilemma that my love of purple, sugar-laden grape apes at The Corner Bar or Sgt. Preston’s came to me in utmost clarity. Not necessarily a good thing, when we’re talking about college flashbacks.
In case you didn’t catch it last week, there’s a new thang going on here on NCK: a weekly post in which I delve into my real life, recapping either how much I cooked or ate out over the weekend. It’s a fun behind-the-scenes peek to spark discussion about your weekend eats, inspire you for next weekend, and help me remember the awesome restaurant dishes I’ve eaten that I really need to turn into a recipe.
Starting last Wednesday, Steve and I sadly dropped this face off at day care but joyously headed to my hometown in Minnesota.
We came for a one-of-a-kind evening at Spoon and Stable with chef Michael Anthony (which will get a post all its own soon), to spend father’s day with my dad, and to hit old and new favorite restaurants over what can only be described as a gluttonous five days. Here’s the rundown spanning our long weekend.
Slowly but surely, or rather, cyclically, my breakfast planning is improving. Despite my love of breakfast foods, working from home, without any mandate to arrive for work at a specific time looking a specific way, leads to breakfast decision fatigue, complicating what could be a simple and healthy start to the day. Kind of like that sentence could be one of the longest and most confusing, but I think still grammatically correct, I’ve ever written. Lately, though, in spurts, I manage to portion out a few days of overnight oats, so that I just have to add almond milk for a super productive next morning.
It was on one of these prep nights that my eyes wandered to the back of a fresh bag of Trader Joe’s gluten free oats, to a recipe for–could it be?–an actually cohesive, chewy, and gluten free chocolate chip cookie. [Read more…]
It’s time for something new! I love to cook–that’s not news, and it’s the reason NCK exists. Often, though, the recipes you see on the blog are the product of testing and a well manicured photo shoot, which is definitely not what my day-to-day cooking looks like. Most blog recipes start with an experiment, or, hey, even dinner desperation, and I want a place to reflect that and show you guys what I eat in real life. Weekend Eats, a new series on NCK, will be an informal roundup of what and where I ate over the weekend, who I was with, and a few thoughts and pictures. When I entertain, it will include those dinner (or brunch) menus that I craft so carefully in order to have a worry-free party where everyone eats well.
The photography promises to be less staged, a welcome break from carefully placed utensils and herb leaves. The series will help expose the evolution of all those “polished” recipes you see on the ‘gram and the blog and Pinterest and will keep the blog going even when life and work keep me too busy to crank out three gorgeous recipes a week. Finally, I hope it starts a conversation with y’all about your weekend cooking and gives you inspiration in the kitchen for when Friday rolls around!
- Crumb topping-for-days coffee cake
- No-chop thyme vinaigrette (the dressing only; I make a third or half of the recipe)
- “Everything” marinade: great for flank steak, and I imagine also good on portobellos or tofu. I start with a base of canola oil, add red wine vinegar, smashed garlic cloves, fresh oregano or parsley leaves, black pepper and/or peppercorns, soy sauce or tamari, garlic salt, and lime juice. Marinade for one to two hours. Brush off excess marinade before grilling or broiling.
- Gluten free mac and cheese
It’s been one of those weeks where I’m spinning what feels like 73 plates, and even this food blogger ain’t got no time to plan dinner. I’ve been improvising, and while I did create a weekly meal plan spreadsheet, as I’ve done every week for the last two years, I’m filling it in as I go. My strategy has been this: pick one or two main pantry/fridge staples to use up, and work around them. Here’s what the week in dinners looked like:
- Dinner party leftovers of vegan Spanish potatoes, grilled steak and veggies, and chimichurri sauce
- Delivery veggie pizza
- Grilled veggie and steak tostadas with creamy black beans and peach salsa
- Tomato salad with pasta and garbanzo beans added
- And…toasted gnocchi and copious amounts of blue cheese over arugula
Last night was not looking promising, and I thought we would end up with takeout. [Read more…]