Wings, Three Ways (Part 2!)

Dear readers, we’ve done it before and now we’ve gone and done it again. At a recent Sunday dinner we went wild and grilled wings three ways.

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It’s funny because if you asked, I would tell you I don’t love wings, but I think that’s because if you asked, I’d be picturing restaurant wings, fried, dripping with sauce that’s far too spicy for my liking, and tons of grease. My stomach twisted just thinking about it.

But these wings aren’t those wings, nor are they any wings we’ve made at home. Wings on the grill are a zillion times better. And this time around, everyone had a different favorite, so let me link you to all three.

Wing 1: All Recipes Grill Master Wings

Wing 2: Food Network Garlic Parmesan Wings*

Wing 3: All Recipes Detroit Hot Honey Wings

*It should be noted I snapped a picture of this recipe in an issue of my sister-in-law’s Food Network magazine, but figured I’d never actually make it. When people want wings, they want heat, and there’s none to be found here. But. I’m so glad we went for it because these ended up being faves of mine and some other folks too.

 

That Little Extra Something

When friends are over, I used to do my best to pull out all the stops. I was known to make four last minute trips to the grocery store to make justonemorething to take the table from full to bursting. And then Gooplet came around, and simply gathering friends around the table seemed like enough of a win. If my husband can grill and I can pull off a side or two, what more do we need? (Answer: nothing!) But it’s still nice to take a classic and give it a little hint of something special.

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That’s exactly what this Caprese salad with hot bacon dressing is. Yep. Hot*. Bacon. Dressing.

*Except mine was room temperature bacon dressing, and I served it over a bed of arugula.

Cheese Day Saturday [tater tot breakfast skillet]

A while ago, The (Not So) New Girl introduced me (virtually) to her pseudo-cousin, someone who she said had a passion for all things cooking and cookbooks, and reminded her a lot of yours truly. Many a recipe-link/pin/email later, my foodie pen pal and I finally met up last weekend! We went to have brunch with The (Not So) New Girl, and wasn’t it a surprise when we discovered that each of us brought something with cheese.

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My contribution was a riff on How Sweet Eats’ tater tot breakfast skillet, but we all know these days I can’t be bothered to follow a recipe to the letter. Here’s what I did (and did again when I made this approximately 8 days later, yes it is that good):

Preheated the oven to 375.

Sauteed chopped onions, mushrooms, and a red pepper till soft, then added 3 minced cloves of garlic for the last minute or two. Put that mixture in the bottom of a well-greased baking dish.

Cracked 8 eggs, and added 2/3 C whole milk. Poured the mixture on top of the veggies.

Sprinkled 8 oz. of grated extra sharp cheddar on top of that.

Layered a bag of frozen tots all over the top.

Baked it for 45 minutes, and then ate way more than anyone ever should.

What We Ate This Week

Dear readers, it’s confession time. A big part of the reason you don’t see in-depth recipe write ups here anymore is because I don’t dedicate the same amount of time to documenting my food as I used to. But perhaps an almost-as-large part of the reason is because…gasp…I don’t follow recipes as much as I used to. So in the name of putting the “food” in food blog, I’m going to jump on at least once a week for a round up of what we ate. This will be what’s notable, not forgettable, or repetitive. Here we go…

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Last week had been so hectic that I went into this week without a meal plan. That almost never happens, and when it does, pretty much ensures we’re going to eat like total crap. And that’s how most of the week played out. Happens to the best of us.  Here were the clear winners from an out-of-sorts kind of week.

After my trip to Costco found me with two boxes of Cranberry/Almond/Coconut Special K (run, don’t walk to get yourself some), I decided to make Quaker’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but replace the oatmeal with cereal, and replace the raisins with chocolate chips. Shared these with friends to their great delight. I love having people to bake for.

When we last visited The (Not So) New Girl and her little guy, I was lucky enough to be the one who got to polish off the last of a broccoli kale slaw her husband made. There is nothing better than finishing the bottom of a bowl of a salad with tons of mix-ins, because they all sink down to the bottom. When she sent me the recipe, I remembered that it’s similar to a recipe of Shutterbean’s, that I’ve always wanted to make. This salad is amazing. The sum is so much greater than any of its parts. I swapped out the sunflower seeds or walnuts I already had on hand, and left out the chicken, because meat was the star of the table already.

Making this Barefoot Contessa lemon yogurt cake was a great way to feed a couple different sets of people last week. How I’ve never blogged about it before is baffling. It’s a staple. (I do vaguely refer to it in this ancient post. Helpful, no?)

And finally, last night was Honey Sriracha Chicken, which is such a great meal, and probably comes together in less time than it takes you to wait for Chinese delivery. We left out the sugar and didn’t miss it in the slightest. Next time, I’m going to prep the sauce and chicken in advance, and cook them off in the ten minutes before I’m serving.

Whole 30 – The First 10 Days

I loved when Shutterbean shared her Whole 30 progress, so I’m hoping you all will humor me and listen to mine.

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What I Ate (for the most part):

Moroccan chicken stew, from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook* – Everyone should eat this chicken. Everyone. I’ve had many-a-similar recipe, and this is my favorite of all. I think it’s the cinnamon stick that simmers with the stew the whole time. I forgot my husband doesn’t love cinnamon until after we finished, oops. He agreed this is amazing anyway. (pictured above, on my messy counter)

Chanterelle tacos, from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day – I used 12 oz. of mushrooms, chopped super small, to match the 8 oz. ground beef I added. These were amazing. My husband ate them as regular tacos, with tortillas and cheese, and I ate them with lettuce “shells.”

Yankee Pot Roast, from the Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook – I can’t find the recipe anywhere, but this was the best pot roast I’ve ever had. I’ll make it again and tell you all about it.

Sheet Pan Lemon and Basil Chicken – believe it or not, I’ve never made a traybake (it’s what Nigella calls them) before. What on Earth took me so long? I was putting this together, thinking, this is just going to be plain chicken, but it was quite good. We did a separate tray with potatoes and sweet potatoes, and took the blogger’s advice: cut the potatoes small, and roast them 10 or 15 minutes longer.

Baked Parmesan hash browns – except without the Parmesan. I did add chives, and some eggs (4, maybe?) to hold them together. I don’t know if I want to live in a world where there isn’t cheese with my hash browns, but I had half a bag to use up, and this got the job done.

A whole lotta this kinda stuff, sans cheese and cream, obviously. I think an abundance of eggs is kind of a given on Whole 30. Currently have a “batter” for one with spinach, and the leftover veggies from the aforementioned traybake ready to go in the fridge.

Pre-grilled chicken with roasted veggies – This is my go-to lunch. Most nights after dinner, I chop up a bunch of veggies, roast them at 425 for a while, and put them in the fridge for the next day or two. I buy Bell and Evans grilled chicken breasts in the freezer section at Whole Foods (if they add something that’s not Whole 30-approved, I’m not interested in hearing about it). Then I mix those up and nuke ’em for lunch.

Unsweetened applesauce – at the recommendation of a good friend who has done a couple Whole 30s. You’re not supposed to snack on Whole 30, but my lunch is often half a meal eaten at noon, while Gooplet eats, and another half later while he takes his afternoon nap. Sorry, Whole 30 people, but that’s how it’s going to have to be.

Lemon water – Sparkling water is not my favorite, but goodness, you’ve gotta do something to make all that regular water taste a little more exciting. I love throwing limes and/or strawberry slices in too.

Some assorted thoughts, as I thought them:

-Holy moly, all I do all day is eat things you’re not supposed to eat on Whole 30. That first and second day were filled with me opening the refrigerator, and heaving a longing sigh because I had no idea what I could even eat in there. And I stocked my refrigerator full of Whole 30-approved foods.

-Holy, moly, this is going to cost money! All the bloggers say that. They’re right. I’m walking to the grocery store for more fruits and veggies ever other day. Not an exaggeration. Let’s hope what I’m saving on Starbucks is helping to make up the difference.

-The headaches are real (for the first 3 days). About midday for the first 3 days I’d get a headache that would hang around till dinner. When that hit, I started running for lemon water and praying the clock would move fast and I could eat another meal before it got any worse. I’m assuming that’s from the lack of sugar, not the lack of grains or dairy, but who knows?

-We know I’m all about ritual, and there is one ritual in which I partake daily, that has been hard to give up. Every afternoon, when Gooplet goes down for his second nap, I drink an ice-cold glass of milk and eat some sort of treat that I deem acceptable on that particular day. A piece of chocolate, a leftover cookie, you name it. This is sacred territory and helps me gear up for my last shift of mom life before dad comes home. Morning nap is like, do all the things! Emails! Laundry! Dishes! Get dinner in the slow cooker! Afternoon nap is like, ahhhhhhh.  I really miss that afternoon ritual. 10 days gone and that hasn’t changed at all.

-I am not now and (likely) never will be a vegetarian, but goodness gracious, I do not know if I love meat enough to keep this plan going. I didn’t realize that I didn’t eat that much meat. I did eat that many carbs. So now I have this void, where I don’t want pounds of meat, but I can’t have carbs, and I swear to you, if I have to look at another vegetable…(Dear readers, great news – I’m reading this now like, oh, pshhhh, I totally don’t have that problem anymore. I think it’s about finding the right ratios of meat to veggies to fruit, for you, and about figuring out what foods you’re going to enjoy eating on this plan.)

-Plan! Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan. And then plan some back ups. I always plan my meals out for the week on Saturday or Sunday, but I often change up the plan as life continues. Last minute stuff comes up, and the dinner you thought you had time to prepare, isn’t going to happen. And sometimes on Friday, you don’t feel like eating what you told yourself you’d make last Sunday. When you can eat whatever you want, that’s no problem, because you’ve likely got a fully-stocked pantry, but when you have serious limits on that, you’ve gotta get creative.

*Amen to this cookbook. I checked it out from the library because I wasn’t sure if I would want to buy it. I find a lot of the slow cooker recipes out there redundant, but I knew if anyone would get it right, America’s Test Kitchen would. They blew me out of the water. And they understand that

Dinner Round Up

We just had a Pinterest round up and those are always fun, so why not a dinner round up?

See also, I don’t take pictures of my food anymore. A confluence of life events has left me such that I’m often eating,

a) standing up, while trying to do three other things at once
b) er, shoveling food in my mouth frantically, so I can head out the door
c) in a state of complete exhaustion because the day kicked my butt

I’d give you a classic blogger excuse like the winter light is terrible (and it is), but that would be utter nonsense.  I’m not snapping pictures of my food because I don’t sit still long enough to do it. Check out my Instagram stories if you want to see what’s for dinner.

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If you want to click on what’s for dinner, however, that’s easy enough. It’s right here:

Amy Thielen’s fancy meatloaf is amazing, and the “fancy” does not apply to the prep–it comes together easily enough. (Next time, I’d chop everything going in super tiny, but that’s a personal preference.)

Pinch of Yum’s Skinny Spinach Lasagna (though of course I didn’t use the skinny ingredients) was my first foray into no-boil noodles, and dare I say, it was a rip roaring success. Lasanga can now be a candidate for weeknight meal. Never thought I’d live to see the day.

The Kitchn’s Creamy Skillet Tortellini with Sweet Potato and Spinach is amazing. Always wanting to work sweet potatoes into the rotation, and this was a great way to do it.

Brown Eyed Baker’s Italian Wedding Soup has shredded chicken and ground beef meatballs.  Loved it. (Doubled the pasta because I always do.)

On a smiliar note, Bon Appetit put together a zoodle soup, to which I added real (egg) noodles because, see above. Felt like a fun twist on a classic vegetable soup. (This is what’s in the picture above.)

This slow cooker basil chicken with coconut curry sauce is a great alternative to cream of mushroom soup in the slow cooker.  You know I can only handle so much cream of mushroom in the slow cooker.

The Kitchn’s Cheesy Lentil, Mushroom and Rice Bake was a great meatless addition to the table, and something that can easily come together if you prep the grains ahead of time.

The Slow Train* [easy meatball stroganoff]

The (Not So) New Girl is great at reminding me that my baby isn’t on the slow train with regards to whatever skill he hasn’t quite yet mastered, he’s just on his own train. He’ll get where he needs to go in due time.

And I guess I will too? But oh, lately does it feel like I’m on the slow train back to Sunday dinners. I used to love throwing a hunk of meat in the oven for all of Sunday afternoons until it was falling apart, and we were so hungry we’d eat enough to put ourselves in a food coma.

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(I really want this image to rotate, and I’ve spent too much time not getting it to work.)

Enter Design Mom’s easy meatball stroganoff.  The perfect, hearty Sunday dinner, but without all that roasting time. I prepped the sauce during the day, we took Gooplet for a gorgeous winter walk, saw an open house, visited with neighbors, came home to put him to bed, and reheated dinner for ourselves.  Dream day, dream dinner.

To make meatballs for 4 or 6 friends, you will need:

Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms (white button or cremini), sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
One (24 ounce) package frozen meatballs**
1 cup sour cream, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
For serving:
Hot, buttered egg noodles, spaetzle, or rice (we used barley)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
1. In a Dutch oven or large 5-6 quart saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and let cook, stirring often, until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and season with a little salt. Saute, stirring often, allowing the mushrooms and onions to brown nicely. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan. Set aside and keep warm.
3. To the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt. When foaming subsides, add the flour and stir well. Cook the flour, stirring constantly, for 30-60 seconds. Add beef broth. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
4. Bring gravy to a simmer. Add the thyme sprigs to the pan along with the reserved onions and mushrooms.
5. Add the frozen meatballs to the pan. Stir to coat with the sauce. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan.
6. Once meatballs have cooked through, stir in 1/2 to 3/4 sour cream, depending on preference. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Spoon the meatballs and sauce over hot noodles, spaetzle, or rice, with remaining sour cream on the side.

*An alternate story to tell with the serving of this dish, was my husband’s commentary that we are a great match because I understand it’s appropriate to serve bacon with meatballs.

**The key to the meatball-finding is to look for beef meatballs that are not Italian season.  The author of the post recommends meatballs from Trader Joes or IKEA.  I can vouch that frozen IKEA meatballs are one of life’s great joys.

Mom Brain [baked pesto rigatoni]

The other day, Wooden Nickels sent me an article, a headline, something, I don’t remember, about how “mom brain” isn’t real.
Hah.
Mom brain is absolutely real.  You know all those studies that show how important sleep is for making you a functional person?  (See here for what is perhaps the most applicable.) Well moms don’t sleep.  Even moms with “good sleepers” don’t sleep because their babies are teething, or have learned to stand and have decided the best time to practice this skill is the middle of the night, or the moms go back to work and upset the balance in which their life was hanging.  And moms of bad sleepers?  Ugh, just come sit by me.  Moms don’t sleep.  And a lack of sleep kills brain cells.
Enter, mom brain.
Mom brain is what allowed me to get entirely through the making of this dish, up to the point I needed to sprinkle the assembled casserole with cheese, and realize I didn’t ever put the basil in the pesto.  And by realize, I simply mean I saw two packages of basil sitting pretty in the drawer in the fridge, and then thought, huh, isn’t basil an essential ingredient in pesto? (Answer: yes!)
Here’s the great news.  Cooking is incredibly forgiving, and I loved this baked pesto rigatoni anyway.
To make a 9×13, or two 8×8 casserole(s), you will need:
For the pasta:
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 2-3 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • ½ cup shredded cheese of choice (I used a mozzarella and provolone blend)
  • pesto (recipe follows)
For the pesto:
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup basil (unless you claim mom brain and leave it out)
  • ¾ cup almonds or pine nuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, chop up the tomatoes – I just cut the little ones in half. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place all the pesto ingredients in the food processor until smooth. Go ahead and stick a glass measuring cup in that boiling water and pull out 1/2 C, sans pasta, to thin out the sauce a little bit.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the cooked noodles with the chopped tomatoes and pesto. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish (or two 8x8s if you want to share with someone else) and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover loosely with well-oiled aluminum foil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Crisp things up by cooking 5 minutes longer without the foil.

AGOMEYR [enchilada orzo]

About as many times as I’ve mentioned AGOMYR on this blog, she has mentioned that she doesn’t really put the Y in AGOMYR.  And a couple of weeks ago she proved me right by going and having a kid of her own.  Cue all the frozen meals!
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It’s a little risky making food for AGOMYR, because she’s a bit of a foodie herself.  So, for inspiration, I visited her own Pinterest boards, knowing that was sure to lead me to something exactly right for her.
What I didn’t know was that I would also find a great dinner for myself, my husband, and Gooplet in the process.  I doubled (and tweaked) Damn Delicious’ slow cooker enchilada orzo, so we could enjoy some too.  It’s not a recipe I’d have made otherwise, but thank goodness I did.  Gooplet inhaled it. He couldn’t get enough.
So thank you AGOMYR, and brand new, adorable AGOMEYR (A Glass of Milk’s Even Younger Reader?) for introducing us to what is sure to become a staple in our family.
To make enchilada orzo for 4-6, you will need:
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10-ounce) can mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more, as needed
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Place the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chiles, vegetable broth, corn kernels, black beans, salt, and pepper in a pot, and stir to mix everything well.  Turn on the stove, and let the mixture come to a boil.  Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook at least 30 minutes.  Really, cook as long as you want, but keep checking on it every now and again, stirring it and making sure the liquid hasn’t all cooked out.  Be prepared to add more broth if need be.

About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve add the orzo, and let the mixture continue simmering, uncovered now, for about 10 more minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in the cream cheese until melted.

Serve, and top with cilantro.

A Balancing Act [bacon wrapped club crackers]

When a family is kind enough to invite you and your baby to a cocktail party, you are forced to make a tricky decision.  Do you…

a) pay a babysitter a large chunk of money so you can go childless, only to have everyone in attendance ask you why you didn’t bring your adorable child?

b) bring him and leave super early because he goes to bed when the rest of the world is eating dinner?

This go-round, we chose b, and for the first time in my life, our family was both the first to arrive and the first to depart at this event.  I am so glad we went, though, as I got to catch up with some old faves.

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They say motherhood is a balancing act, and my one regret is they served my favorite party appetizer here. In my balancing of wine in one hand, and child in another, I never managed to get my hands on one.

So I made them at home.

Dear readers, do you know the magic that is bacon-wrapped Club crackers?  Safe to say if you attended a Super Bowl party in the 1990s, you’ve eaten one or two. May I refresh your memory and encourage you to eat another couple.  And soon.

To make bacon-wrapped Club crackers, you will need:

  • Club crackers
  • Parmesan cheese (I like to use shredded, not grated)
  • sliced of bacon, cut in thirds

Line a baking sheet with foil, and top it with a cooling rack.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

To prepare the crackers, place a heaping teaspoon of cheese on each cracker.  Wrap bacon on top.  You want the cheese facing up and the seam from the bacon facing down when you place these on the rack on the baking sheet.

Bake for 2 hours.  Enjoy them right away, or prep them ahead of time, and serve at room temperature.