As I may have mentioned before, I am definitely a foodie. So much of a foodie that I will spend hours in the kitchen just to come up with something more exciting for lunch than a sandwich (I kind of hate sandwiches, in fact). Confession: I once followed an entire recipe I found online JUST to find out what a crumpet actually was (spoiler: it’s a pan-fried English Muffin). So I thought I’d celebrate my
obsession with love of cooking by sharing a few of my favorite recipes I’ve made lately.
I am all about a seasonal menu. When the weather changes, it’s time to switch up the ingredients. Spring and summer in South Carolina offer a wealth of amazing produce. Berries, peaches, tomatoes, corn, and so much more that can be bought locally in season. (Ever had a strawberry in December? Yeah. They suck.)
So now that it’s springtime again, I’ve started purchasing less butternut squash and more asparagus, blackberries, and lemons (speaking of which, try this lower-sugar lemonade I’ve been
guzzling sipping for the past few weeks).
Menu planning is probably one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world (yes, I know I’m weird). But it’s mostly because I get to choose from the entire universe of cooking meals that my husband and I can eat – and hopefully feel good about.
I used to just wing it at the grocery store and pick up everything my little heart desired, and then come home – broke as a joke – only to realize that I had plenty of crackers and cottage cheese, but no actual meals. Which meant yet another trip to the grocery store, and of course, more money spent.
So before Brian and I got married, I started creating a weekly menu. This can be utilitarian as “I really need to use that broccoli in the fridge,” or “chicken is on sale so I’m stocking up and we’re eating it all week,” to something more exciting that I’m just dying to eat or try (see “CRUMPETS” above).
If you’re not a cook (and all great chefs start there), the easiest thing to do is find a simple recipe and follow it to the letter. Unfortunately, I’ve never been great at following all of the instructions (the other night I accidentally put in 2 1/2 CUPS of flour instead of 2 1/2 TABLESPOONS in something…), so a lot of times I’ll just wing it. I take a recipe (like this one for Paleo Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos – no we are not Paleo by any means) and make it simpler (you want me to BOIL a bunch of stuff that I’m going to use 2 TBSP of?!?!?! Nah, I’ma just sprinkle in a little of each!).
Usually it works out. Occasionally it doesn’t. The other night, we made these Grilled Chili-Lime Sweet Potato Wedges, and I missed the part about brushing them with the sauce as you’re grilling, rather than before. It resulted in some slightly charred (but still pretty delicious – and totally edible) sweet potatoes.
Here are some of my favorite recipes lately. Most of them are recipes I just found online, but I’ve added a few of my own tips below, as well as a few of our favorite basic recipes:
- Bistro Roasted Chicken (from MyRecipes.com)
- Honey-Ginger Glazed Carrots (from FiveHeartHome.com)
- Roasted Asparagus with Lightened-Up Hollandaise (from CarlsBadCravings.com)
- Blackberry Bourbon Bramble: Muddle 1/4 c fresh blackberries with 1 full stem of mint leaves and 2-3 TBSP simple syrup or agave (add more if you like it sweeter), plus the juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if you like it more tart, like I do) and 1 oz bourbon. Shake it all up with ice, then pour over ice and top with sparkling water.
- Citrus Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa (from JoyfulHealthyEats.com)
- Roasted Broccoli: toss your broccoli florets with some olive oil, and either fresh ground salt and pepper, or garlic salt and fresh ground pepper; bake in the oven at 425 for about 15-20 minutes, or until it reaches your desired tenderness (I prefer mine a little crispier, so I pull it before it gets too soft)
- Grilled Chili-Lime Sweet Potato Wedges (from PaleOMG.com)
- Paleo Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos (from WickedSpatula.com): Instead of boiling all of those ingredients for the sauce, I just mixed some mayo, sriracha and apricot jam – sprinkling in some crushed red pepper flakes to taste – and used that instead. Feel free to add a tiny bit of rice wine vinegar if it needs thinning.
- Shrimp Summer Rolls (you can really use anything you like inside of these – a great way to eat lots of fresh veggies!!)
- Grilled Wild-Caught Salmon: Soak in olive oil and lemon just 15 minutes before cooking; sprinkle generous amounts of coarse grey salt and fresh ground pepper; grill until the juices turn white and remove it from the heat – do NOT overcook
- Blue Cheese Polenta: Basic polenta is made with 2 parts water to 1 part cornmeal – but the trick is to boil half of your water, while mixing the cornmeal with the other half of your water, and THEN slowly pour it into the boiling water – stirring constantly. Wait until it reaches your desired thickness (I like mine about like mashed potatoes), then add your cheese: for 1/2 cup of cornmeal (1 cup of water), I’d add about 1 oz. blue cheese, 1/2 oz. asiago cheese, 1-2 TBSP half and half, 1-2 TBSP butter, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Spinach Salad topped with Mango and Jicama (I usually whip up my own vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and maybe a little honey or agave to taste)
Friday Happy Hour
- Jalapeno Margaritas
- Homemade Guacamole: Smash together 1 ripe avocado, juice of 1/2 lime (may need more if the lime is either small or not very juicy), and 1 small clove of garlic, plus salt to taste (sometimes I just use garlic salt instead of fresh garlic). You can also mix in some fresh pico de gallo once you get your guac tasting like you want it.