Wednesday, December 16, 2015

We moved!

If you'd like to see my dinner and dogs, check us all out here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Menu Planning Weeks 7 – The END

Let's run through the end of the menu planning!  I thought we'd go out with a big bang.  But I really ended doing a lot of quick meals & just getting it sorta getting through it.  April was super busy with work & life so I'm just glad this is over & we all got fed.  Also, my love of my cast iron has been re-confirmed for the billionth time...

Cast Iron Steak Night
Quick Cast Iron Tilapia
Trey birthday crawfish!
Cast Iron Pork chops
Slow cooker Asian chicken
We ate on this for a while
Wing Fest!  Had fun w/ friends & fam.  But no finals.  Hopefully better luck next year!
Leftover Wing Fest Cast Iron Pepperjack Burgers w/ Toasted Buns
Big batch of Cast Iron Chipotle Lime Chicken Thighs
And, of course, Cast Iron Blackened Salmon

Ok.  DONE.  I'd hoped to better track the end but, eh, whatcha gonna do?  At least Hubs is done with his twice a week class.  And we're on to bigger & better things!

Seriously.  I've been reading about the Paleo "diet".  I just started an "Essence of Paleo" menu for this week.  I have many of the thoughts on this.  So expect big things at the beginning!  And then a petering off at the end.  I don't really have a time frame but I'm thinking this will go well with BBQ Fest next week, yesss?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Menu Planning – Weeks #5 & 6

Friends.  We.  Are.  Getting there!  As of today, we're on week #7 of this stinkin' class that has taken my Tues/Thurs dinners hostage.  And bent my brain trying to make the week tasty.  But let me not skip ahead... 

Week # 5,  I made a ham!  My first ham!  And it really couldn't have been easier.  Or tastier.  Once I got it in my head, I was on the hunt for  a small ham at the Krogers.  (And had my fingers crossed because I had no Plan B.)  The prices weren't bad for the big ones.  But that was a LOT of meat.  I mean, I like ham, but shoooot.  After some meat-shifting, I found a smaller one for $11.87 and knew it would be mine.  (And seriously?!  Cooking like this made me feel fab when I thought about how many meals we'd get out of that $12.)

Sunday late afternoon, I got to cooking and basting, low & slow.  I used this recipe marinade and this recipe for general cook time/tips.  Perfect timing because Kroger was running a .99 pineapple sale and I basted that baby up!  But the real star was the broiling at the end was for the lovely crispy skin.

Hey, you
Yeah.  You.
I carved it thick for some good sammie sliders (on Hawaiian rolls, of course) and to go on top salads.  Or just by itself.  I love me some big thick ham!

While the ham was cooking, I tried my hand at my first quesadilla "bar".  I figured this would be perfect for lunches or quick meals on the go.

The players.
 I made combinations that included:
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Sauteed  onions & peppers
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Cast iron crusty-cooked skinless chicken breasts
  • Mexican cheese
  • Wheat tortillas
Mo cheesy for Hubs.  Mo veggie (aka mushrooms!) for me.  I put some different combos together, browned them on the ole Foreman Grill (which re-earned the space it was taking up for another year), wrapped them in wax paper and labeled them.


All in all, it was a very good week.  The 'dillas were perfect for lunch and the ham was guh-reat for dinner.  Week #5 success!

Week #6...  Well, my brain got tired.  When your brain gets tired, whaddya need?  Well, tired brain, you need spaghetti.  What's more comfy and happy then spaghetti?  Angel hair + some doctored-up Ragu.  (Doctored up with ground turkey & sauteed onions with garlic.) 

And a tired brain likes chicken too.  Look, my cast iron makes chicken crusty and delicious.  It's not fancy.  But it's good.  I seasoned up some thighs with kosher salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.  Smoked up kitchen and BOOM.

Nice thighs.
Ok!  So that's the last couple weeks.  Being creative can be hard cooking like this.  Especially when you try to be - fairly - healthy and end up get all pork-centric.  But it's the other white meat so it's basically chicken breast right?  No?  Yes?  YES?

Only a couple weeks to go.   Hurrah!  I've been less casserole/slow cooker-y than I initially anticipated.  But still a couple weeks to go!

~And, on a different note, congratulations to UConn.  I'm over the whole Coach Cal thing.  Finally.   But  I'd like to quote what someone said afterwards (a someone that I wish I could give credit here) - "At least Kentucky lost so they won't have to vacate the win in a couple years."  Bwahahahaaaa!  It's funny cuz its true.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Menu Planning Fail - Week #4

Last weekend I visited my mom & dad.  Where does the time go?  I looked up one day & realized I hadn’t seen them since before Christmas.  No bueno.  So I made a call to see if they could find some time for me in their busy schedule.  And – phew! – they could fit me in.  It have been a tad awkward if they couldn’t...

I got to leave work a little early & was on the road before rush hour.  Which meant I arrived in time for dinner.  Aka the seafood buffet! 

There’s a nice home cookin’ buffet restaurant back home.  They have TEE-riffic greens.  (And I know me some greens.)  Well, on Friday, they also have seafood in addition to their usual land-fare.  So shrimp, you say?  Shrimp, INDEED!!  And with that, you’re speaking the Roberts’ family love language.  Lots of peel & eat shrimp, salmon, greens, salad bar and all things fried – catfish, shrimp, oysters, & chicken (which is not seafood but just plain good).  We were off to a great start!

~Sidenote, I saw a kid so stuffed with crab legs that his eyes rolled back in his head.  A) That is a LOT of crabs & B) Hope the car ride home wasn’t bumpy.

Over the weekend we visited, ate another fave (Mexican), little shopping, some movie watching (the Maltese Falcon is GOOD), had hilarious* conversations (*according to who you ask) and then it was over all too soon.  And back to Memphis I went.  Fuller, better dressed, filled with hugs, and a little sad at how fast the time went.  But all around, a wonderful trip!

So while I was gone, I got on my laptop & did my usual nerdy menu planning.  But at home, I failed to execute.  I got some groceries.  But after being out of town, I realized I had bitten off more than I could chew.  (I spit it out you might say.)  So I unpacked.  Did a little of this and a little of that to get ready for the upcoming week.  Hugged the dogs.  And hoped I could find some time to cook on Monday.

I didn’t.  We ordered pizza.

So week #4 of menu planning was a fail.  Dinners have been off the cuff and lunches sad.  (It had been a really long time since I’d had a microwave meal.  Yeah.  They’re still blech.)  So I learned my lesson – if you don’t cook the food, you can’t eat the food.  Oh, well.  As Scarlett would say, tomorrow is...  Another week!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Menu Planning – Weeks #2 & 3

I’m on week #3 of 10  for doing the majority of my cooking on Sunday afternoons.  And I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things.  Maybe?  Possibly?  Hopefully?

First, let me go back.  For week #2’s eats, my menu consisted of some big ole stuffed chicken breasts and a big ole casserole. 

I winged (heh, “winged“...  cuz chickens have wings – not that that's the portion I was cooking) some chicken breasts.  After wandering plan-less around Kroger (never an efficient idea), I decided on chicken breasts that I would stuff with fresh sauteed spinach, goat cheese, and caramelized onions.

Stuffed yet?

For the big ole casserole,  I took this recipe and used it as a base that I “healthied” up.  I subbed wheat pasta, used egg whites (instead of whole), ground turkey (instead of beef) and added some thawed frozen spinach.  And tossed in a little light Greek yogurt to make it a little extra creamy. 

So we ate on all that all last week. 
And it was pretty good. 
But definitely not as exciting as the pork tenderloin sliders and Asian lettuce wraps from the week before. 

I became menu obsessed.  Must.  Make.  The Foods.  YUMMIER.

The thing about cooking like this is that you really need to want to eat it.  A lot. Repeatedly.  I bring my lunch pretty much every day and last week, for instance, the casserole, got old.

But this week, I do believe I matched and quite possibly outdid week #1.

The secret?  I had to dissect the true meaning of Hawaiian rolls and sammies themselves. (Yes, verry deep thoughts here.)  What was so good about those meals?

Answer?  The versatility.  The pork could go on a roll.  Be eaten by itself.  Or make for a tasty salad and, therefore, lo-carb.  Also, the lettuce rolls were naturally low-carb and perfect for day or night. 

Note:  I am not one of the no-carb crowd.  I love them too much and believe in their useful body fuel.  But I do try to eat the “right” carbs - Hawaiian rolls not included - and just limit them at night.  In case you were wondering.  Which I bet you weren’t.  Do people really care about other peoples’ carb consumption?  Moving on!

So to match week #1, I did pretty much the same thing.  But different.

On the menu, big ole meatballs and a big ole thing of stir fry.  (It’s also important they be “big ole“.)

I made this recipe for the meatballs and doubled it.  In doubling, I used 1lb lean ground beef and 1lb lean ground turkey.  Also, for the liquid I did part milk, part egg.  I think I did the rest the same?  Oh, I sauteed the garlic & onions.

To go with our Sunday night meatballs, I got some Hawaiian rolls.  (To no one’s surprise.  At this point, I should put their ads on here.)  I also sauteed some onions and peppers.  Poured a jar of marinara in a pot & heated it up.  Our own personalized meatball bar!

Versatility.  Boom.

We had the option of meatball sliders.  Or the meatballs sans roll for the lo-carb night.  (Or with brown rice for a carb night alternative.) 

Hubs loved them.  Like, mentioned it more than once how much he liked.  And I put a gold star in my Wife Memory Journal.  (Which is totally not a thing.  That I would ever admit to...)

So Sunday night, winner.  Monday night, big ole made-ahead stir fry time.

I oh-so love to cook chicken in my cast iron to get a crisp skin even when you buy skinless chicken.  Its only downfall is my tendency to smoke up the house & set off the fire alarm.  (I’m not convinced our oven hood isn’t just for looks.)

I seasoned a large pack of skinless chicken thighs and a large pack of skinless chicken breasts with kosher salt, pepper, paprika & garlic powder.  Cooked it all up in 2 batches and set aside to cool. 

I threw 3 bags of Kroger brand frozen stir fry veggies in my largest skillet to cook.  Then added some fresh cut mushrooms as well as 2 cans of chopped water chestnuts and a can of chopped bamboo shoots.  I also threw in some peanuts.  Lots of crunch!

This pic does not do skillet-size its due
Big ole

As I cooked all of this over a medium heat, I pulled all of my Asian sauces out.  And poured and plopped in fish sauce, lemongrass, sriracha, chili paste, oyster sauce, a Korean marinade... Just to name a few.  You would think so many ingredients would be too much!  (You would be wrong.)

Guys.  It turned out really well.  The flavors, the crunch, the chicken, the perfect amount of heat.  Because I never go by a recipe, it never turns out quite the same.  (Similar to the lettuce wraps.)    But this time was a humdinger.  (Yes.  A humdinger.)  If I do say so myself!  Eaten over rice or by itself, a very satisfying meal.

Week #3 = Check!  Now on to figure out Week #4...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Menu planning. My new favorite sport.

With a new job brings new schedule.  And mealtime challenges.

It's no secret I like to be fed.  Whether that's me cooking or someone cooking for me, I just like the foods.  Lately, Mondays, I pretty much can't cook and be in bed at a decent hour bc I have things due first thing on Tuesday.  So I've been taking work home.  Depending on how the week goes, Thursday may or may not be a work night too.  Add to that Hub's new Tues/Thurs 10-week real estate class and dinner is just a mess.  I mean, he's not even home to eat those days!  (I miss him.  But the remote is all mine.  Bwahhahahaaa.)

So how to get fed with max yum & minimum weeknight stress?

I went to the local Asian store for the first time recently.  It's right down the street & I CANNOT believe I've never been before!  It looks like a convenience store from the outside.  But is surprisingly ginormous inside.  All sorts of produce.  Exotic seasonings and marinades.  Fresh seafood.  To include whole fish.  (I've been talking mad game about filleting one.  Think I found a friend to join me!  More on this to come.)

So anyhoo, at the Asian store I got a Korean apple/pear marinade.  I was pretty excited about it.  I marinaded 2 medium-sized pork tenderloins in that for about 36 hours.  Sunday, I seared them on the on the cast iron and finished them in the oven.  We had them on Hawaiian rolls.  (I love anything with Hawaiian rolls by the way.  Sliders.  Ham.  Or on their own.  Hawaiian rolls are the best.  THE BEST.)  And sides were roasted broccoli, roasted red potatoes, asparagus, and brown rice.

Good dinner and great leftovers.  We had them for lunch & dinner throughout the week.  I also made a double batch of spicy Asian lettuce wraps Sunday afternoon and we had those as well.  Add one night out for Mexican and I didn't have to cook a single weeknight.  I must say, I felt pretty good about myself!  Food was good and it just took a productive Sunday.

Open face sammies with apricot horseradish sauce
A look-forward-to lunch
Lettuce wrap pic fr the interwebs - but pretty much identical
So that was last week.  Menu planning this week, way harder.  I enjoyed last week so much, nothing seemed as good.  Spaghetti?  Boring.  Meatloaf.  Good, but not quite there.  Roast?  Think we just had one.  I finally landed on a slow cooker shredded BBQ chicken.  Seemed versatile.  Could go on buns, nacho chips or I could make a salad.  Menu-planned - check.

It was 60-something degrees & gorgeous yesterday.  The Memphis Tigers BEAT Louisville and a super exciting, close game that had the Forum absolutely rocking.  So thinking about that BBQ chicken?  Yes, please!

Buuuuut today, Sunday, it is freezing, raining, and we're under ice storm warning.  BBQ chicken?  Not so much.  My taste buds want something more comfy.  Quick change of plans.  Winging it, so we'll see how it goes.  I got chicken breasts, a bunch of spinach, and goat cheese.  I plan on caramelizing onions, mixing with sauteed garlic spinach/goat cheese and stuffing the chicken breasts with that mix.  I'm making a large batch of that tonight which should yield plenty of leftovers.  For tomorrow, I defrosted a big mac & cheese casserole from the freezer (recipe here - I subbed ground turkey and added spinach).  With either a night out or quick fish dinner, the week seems covered.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

We will test any of that for you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why, Hello 2014

My first post was October 22, 2009.  It’s been almost exactly 4 years of Bubbleland.

4 years ago I was a newlywed.  New home cook.  Firsts were everywhere.  I had only just moved in our first house & adopted our first doggie while I was still working my first “real” job.

Since then, I’ve gotten stamps in my passport.  Worn in a cast iron.  Worked on a now-defunct start-up website and moved on to my third “real” job.  And am about to celebrate 5 years of wedded bliss.  I’m getting further into my 30s and the firsts aren’t in abundance anymore.  Which is not a bad thing at all.  It’s just a new stage.  (Hey, that’s a first!  Sorta?)  A stage of delighting in an early bedtime and an appreciation for a really good moisturizer. 

This week I was thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve been here.  And the lack of time, blah blah blahhh.  So do I leave this thing up or take it down if I’m not really keeping current?  What’s the point?  Is there a point?  What were we just talking about?

And then I was thinking too - this blog isn’t important.  In a lovely, everyday way, it’s not.  I just like to take pictures of food & dogs and didn’t have anywhere to put them.  I like looking back on meals shared & times spent with the ones I love.  So it doesn’t have to be a choice of keeping it or signing off for good.  I’ll post when I can and you come back if you want, my little Bubble people.

(Although I’m never really sure anyone reads this other than my dad.  But just as well bc no one else probably thinks I’m funny.  My new hair person didn’t laugh at my jokes the other day.  Not like it was knee-slapping humor but come on.  Crack a smile!  And on top of that, she over charged me.  Whatever.  The price was lowered but the message was received.  Chair permanently vacated.  Teach you not to laugh at my jokes...)

So all that to say, hello again, yous guys there.   What’s been cookin’, good lookins?