Thursday, December 3, 2015


Sometimes nostalgia is the most important ingredient.  When Evan and I were just cutting our teeth in our relationship, there was a divey Vietnamese take out place a block from his apartment.  There was an endless supply of excellent Vietnamese food only a quick subway ride away, but this place was decent, and delivered.  They also had a meal that the carefully edited menu described as "boodle."  It was some delicious combination of ground pork, ginger, rice noodles and other mystery flavors.

I have been unsuccessfully replicating this dish for over 10 years now.  Every time it tastes only mildly like the original, and every time we love it.  What it really tastes like is falling in love.  Boodle.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

YouTube Videos and favorite meals.

I am making a giant batch of what I have decided I will from henceforth refer to as "California Chili."  It is the chicken chili recipe from the Lemonade Cookbook and it cannot be overstated how much I love this meal.  It's healthy, easy (albeit time consuming, but not in a pull your hair out kind of way) and SO SO SO delicious.  It tastes rich and decadent and perfect for a brisk day when a heavy, warm meal sits so happily in your belly.  I LUH it.

As I was prepping my mire poix (see how I use fancy terms like Mire Poix?  It's because I have watched 4328490328390438290842 hours of Top Chef,) I thought to myself, I should watch a YouTube video on how to properly dice an onion.  And a carrot.  And come to think of it, my dream of one day taking a class to learn how to properly butcher a chicken, I bet I could learn that on YouTube as well!

YOU CAN LEARN ALMOST ANYTHING ON YouTube!  It's amazing.  Here is the short but life saving list of things I have watched videos and then taught myself how to do on YouTube:

1) Make Cacio e Pepe properly.  I watched an Italian chef, speaking Italian, perform this delicious feat and then repeated it promptly with wild success.

2) Install the child trailer attachment to my bicycle.  It was overwhelming and it took me a LONG time to find a video that showed the right way to do it, but when I finally did the actual installation took me about four minutes.  And I felt like a super hero.

3) Locate a wall stud.  Use that wall stud to locate ALL the wall studs in the room.  The majority of standard wall studs are 16 inches apart.  Did you know this?  I do now.  Also, 2x4s are ACTUALLY only 1.5x3.5.  Why lie construction industry?  Why lie?

4) Install a drywall anchor.  Remove a drywall anchor.

That's it so far.  But seriously, all of those things I could never have done without YouTube.  I would have paid someone to do them for me.  It's also worth noting that I used to be a person who flat out refused to watch videos on the computer.  My friends would send me links to things and I would respond "I will never watch this.  Why do you bother?"  Oh, to think of all the years of learning I have missed.  Never again!

Maybe I will find an amazing chopping video and post it here.  Maybe we can all learn how to properly dice a mire poix!  In the meantime I will enjoy this amazing California Chili.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lunch for two.

Lunch.  One of the main motivators for this challenge was the eliminating the convenience of "grabbing something quick on the road" for myself, for lunch.  

The last thing I want to do at lunch time is cook.  I don't even want to think.  I would really enjoy just sitting down and having delicious food placed in front of me.  So lunch feels like a daily struggle, what can I microwave or snack on that will feel enough like a meal that I can make it to dinner, but requires as little effort as humanely possible?  Enter photo above.

We had tacos for dinner on Sunday, and because it was Sunday, tacos were accompanied by cheesy Spanish rice, beans, fresh diced tomato and avocado. Luckily for me, no one in my house was interested in anything but the tacos so I have been enjoying this immensely satisfying leftover combo for lunch thus far this week.

Reed has even discovered a taste for beans (notice they are absent from the bowl save for the scrapes left behind from his little fork.). So delicious.  So easy.  And so frugal, one meal for four with two full lunches and then some of leftovers.  If only lunch was always this simple!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hey you, it's me again!

Heyyyyyyyyy.  Sooo it's been awhile!    Brief update, the challenge is still ongoing but not nearly as strict as I had originally intended.  We are officially out of the "habit" of takeout and delivery, which means I have allowed the occasional "treat" meal to slip back into our lives.  Plus a new local coffee shop opened up in the neighborhood so it's obviously important to support them.

I know the year isn't over, but I have learned SO much in the past 9 months and one glaring lesson needed to be shared as I suffered through it today. 

Recipe books are ALL liars.  Or, to be fair, they present a veiled version of the truth. Think about it, have you ever once seen a recipe that includes clean up in its start to finish time?  I haven't.  And you know...those knives and cutting boards and bowls and whisks and measuring cups and pots and pans don't just magically dance into the sink and wash themselves all Disney style.  Then, there's the actual EATING of the meal, don't forget that ticking clock.  Set the table, serve the food, clear the table, package the leftovers, load the dishwasher.  Where are those minutes in the total count time?  Those minutes add up.  They add up hard.

We all know it isn't time consuming to throw some pasta in boiling water and  bake a piece of chicken with a vegetable.  But the cleaning of the pans, and plates, and serving utensils - that's the real evening killer right there.  And all of that is assuming you DON'T have an almost two year old who eats three or four happy bites and then kamikazes his slow cooked carnitas and cilantro lime rice all across the kitchen.  No.  There is no recipe book that includes the clean up time for that.  The most family friendly of all food blogs do not go into detail on how to not pull out your hair when said 4-5 hours preparing delicious, wholesome family meal promptly lands all over the table, chairs, floor, and dog underfoot.

This is the grind.  This is the day in, day out, dirty business of raising kids.  They eat three meals a day, plus snacks.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Sometimes, they have the gall to NOT eat those meals.  And we have to feed them anyway.

Yet people have the audacity to pretend they don't understand why KFC is so successful...

So despite my every instinct, when tonight's lovingly thought out and prepared feast landed where it would, I did not tear out my hair. I did not crawl into a hole and hide.  I did not even threaten that "I'll sell this house before I'll clean up this mess!"  I just took a deep breath and decided, maybe no more "complex" meals until everyone in the family can speak in complete sentences.  

Another day, another dinner.  Done.

(Mic drop)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's not takeout!

But it sure is frozen chicken fingers, tater tots, and peas (not shown.). Yup.  It was that kind of day.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Do you know about freezing bananas?

My children love fruit.  Until they don't.  As most children do, I'm sure.  They want bananas at the store, but don't want them at home.  Bananas turn brown, then they DEFINITELY don't want them.  So into the freezer they go, to become bread at a later date.

My children also love muffins.  Chocolate muffins.  As do I.  So today I went to make use of those freezer bananas and in the search for banana muffins came across a chocolate banana muffin recipe.  Genius!

I added ground flax seed and protein powder to beef up the recipe a bit and they turned out great!

Recipe here:

I used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of a full cup, and added one ounce of unsweetened organic protein powder and one tbsp of ground flax seed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A disappointment and a short break

Several months ago Evan and I booked a trip to Los Angeles, just the two of us, for a friend's wedding reception.  We looked forward to this mini-vacation IMMENSELY.  A much needed respite from Tampa, and being parents, and the daily grind, you know how it is.  My brother and future sister-in-law came down to watch the boys and we were to fly out Friday morning, returning Monday night.  Or so I thought.

Actually, I booked our flights for THURSDAY morning.  So when I went to check in Thursday midday, not only did I realize my mistake but the plane had already left.  Without us on it.  There was no way to fix the error without spending insane amounts of money, so our vacation became a "staycation" and in my sadness I decided that a weekend break from no fast food was more than acceptable.

Had we gone to LA, I had dreamed for months of all the delicious meals we would have.  Aliki's (my favorite greek place on earth) Sasabune for Evan, and Animal and Lemonade and GTA and the to die for breakfast burritos that this little hole in the wall near our old apartment makes.  Happy Hour with my girlfriends from my old job, In 'N Out eaten over a bonfire on the beach with friends,  Coffee Bean in the morning with my best friend and Sprinkles, the list goes on.

It felt like a candle had been blown out when I realized, not only would we not get our trip away, to see all our friends, to be present for our dear friend's celebration, but all this food I had imagined, and quite honestly held up as a reward for all my sacrifices in skipping the junkie food here, was no longer going to happen.

So I got Starbucks and we ordered pizza and I had PDQ.  It was nice.  It wasn't great.  I wasn't sad when Tuesday rolled around the "ban" was back in place.  The food I put in my body, and the bodies of those I love, should be meaningful.  I don't miss junkie fast food.  I miss LA.  And the people there and the life we lived, and all the incredible flavors that enhanced those experiences.  Papa Johns and Chick-fil-A, I can leave those for everybody else.