What a Crock

Mumbles, bless his heart, has been such a loving husband — making meals and snacks, cleaning the house, taking Baxter for walks…all so I can get as much rest as possible, eat well and stay calm, happy and relaxed while our son is growing inside me (p.s. still so weird to think that I’ve got a human in me!).   The other day, Mumbles devoted about 40 minutes of prep time in the kitchen to prepare a delicious meal of veggies and pork that were set to marinate overnight and cook the next day in the crock pot.  We had a quick cautionary joke between the two of us about the last time he tried to make a crock pot meal and in the hustle of getting out the door for work that morning, forgot to plug in the crock pot before he left.  Ahh!  Such a sad, sad realization when you come home expecting your house to be filled with delicious aromas only to find unsafe, uncooked pork and veggies that have been sitting out all day lukewarm. What a waste!

Well, I wish I could say the same thing didn’t happen to us again a few days ago, but I’d be lying.  He did plug it in this time but he thinks perhaps when reaching for something on the counter nearby that he knocked the plug loose. Either that or our crock pot is just too old (it was a hand-me-down from his mom in all its vintage navy, orange and yellow flowery awesomeness).

All that happened and the next day I saw Target Does It Again post this photo on Instagram of a delightful new Target collaboration with French Bull and I immediately knew I had to have the crock pot. Had to.  Seeing that it wasn’t available in stores near me, I ordered it right away.  I can’t wait to surprise Mumbles with it!

target crock pot french bull slow cooker

If you’re looking to spice up your kitchen with some appliance flair, the French Bull line at Target also includes a toaster, K-cup single cup brewing system, and a blender.  So fun!

Lime Shrimp with Coconut Rice

lime shrimp and coconut rice via Williams-Sonoma

lime shrimp and coconut rice via Williams-Sonoma

Whenever I need to treat myself (or friends) to a nice dinner, this is always the recipe I think of first.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s delicious and I love the coconut-lime combo.  Do yourself a flavor favor: grab the necessary ingredients and give this one a go for yourself.  You’ll thank me later!  Oh, and don’t forget to put on Harry Connick Jr.’s “A Wink and a Smile” while you’re prepping…it always puts me in a good mood!

Here’s the recipe (via Williams-Sonoma), and if you’re a coconut lover like me, I recommend sprinkling in a generous handful of shredded coconut to the cooked rice to give it even more of a coconut kick!  To round out the plate, we usually add a side of healthy black beans, which makes a great combo for a delectable day-after burrito (that’s if you’ve got any left over!).

Enjoy!

What are your favorite go-to recipes?

 

Baking With No Eggs

20121023-122512.jpgHave you ever really been craving pumpkin bread (me, on Sunday) or brownies (Mumbles, last night) and gather all of the ingredients to start making your desired delectible treat only to discover you don’t have eggs? Blast! What to do, what to do?

Last year when Mumbles and I moved to our first home and were making daily trips to various Home Depot and Lowe’s stores around Orange County we popped into Sprouts on occasion (there wasn’t one near us at the time) and stocked up on some good staples and goods we wanted to try. I nabbed a few different types of oils (coconut, walnut, grapeseed) and flours including blanched almond and coconut, along with flaxseed meal to try out some of the gluten-free recipes from Elana’s Pantry and just to experiment in the kitchen. (note: Elana’s Pantry recommends not to use Bob’s Red Mill almond flour – read more here)

After a few scoops into the flaxseed meal, I noticed a little note on the side of the packaging that suggested flaxseed meal as a great subsitute for egg. Well, what do you know! (did you know that? I didn’t know that!)

For one egg, mix 1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water and let sit for a few minutes before adding into the recipe just like you would an egg.

There are, of course, some recipes where you simply can’t substitute an egg (say for example, the delicious chocolate rum cake recipe from my French/German friend, Dona – recipe coming soon, promise!). But, I tucked away that little nugget of knowledge to save for an eggless day, which has been used many-a-time and twice this week alone!

I made the pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s on Sunday when we hosted Mumbles’ family for an afternoon barbeque dinner and I didn’t tell anyone I did anything sneaky like not using eggs and they raved about the loaf. Then, last night, Mumbles was desperately craving brownies. Feeling a little guilty for having still not yet been to the grocery store for milk and eggs, I decided to try the little flaxseed meal trick – which henceforth should be called “the craving saver” or something truly heroic because it is. The brownies didn’t bake up nice and fluffy like they usually do with eggs, but lucky for us we like our brownies gooey and fudgy but also a bit crispy (I love the edges and should probably get that thingamajig that you pop into the pan to make all the pieces edges…gosh, what will they think of next, right?!). The brownies almost had a carmelized flavor to them so they might not have been fantastic for a dinner party because they wouldn’t make for pretty presentation but they were perfect to spoon hot out of the oven and straight into a bowl with ice cream. And straight from said spoon into my waiting mouth.

Have you used this little trick?  Any other nifty substitutes to share?

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water mixed with flaxseed meal is a handy egg substitute

What’s for dinner: Stuffed Artichokes

Okay, not quite dinner, I know (although I could eat these stuffed artichokes until I’m downright stuffed myself). I found this lovely little recipe and video how-to on Daily Candy about a year ago and have been making it for quiet nights in and dinner parties to rave reviews every time.

The recipe instructs that you cut off the top of the artichoke and the stem so that it can sit flat.

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I use kitchen scissors to snip off all the pointy leaf tips then open up the artichoke so it looks like a pretty ranunculus flower.

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Then, create a simple little mixture of Parmesan, oregano, bread crumbs (I usually just crumble up crackers or wheat thins – whatever I have on hand), and garlic salt to taste.

Spoon the dry mixture into each little leaf so that later there’s a tasty nugget on each of the leaves when you pull it off. Add some garlic to the center and then place the artichokes in a pot or deep pan with a half inch of water in the bottom. Drizzle a little olive oil over the artichokes, turn the stove to medium heat and steam them for about 40 minutes.

When they are done the leaves will be easy to pull off and it’ll smell crazy delicious. Be careful, though, because it stays hot and steamy for a while.

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Never eaten an artichoke like this? Pull an individual leaf and hold it with your fingers by the tip. Put the bottom in your mouth and slide it through your teeth to get the meat of the artichoke and cheesy goodness. If you’re entertaining, don’t forget to leave out a plate or bowl for guests to discard their scraped-off leaves (kinda like the already-sucked-out-shells of edamame).  On the other hand, if you’re at home in front of the couch, just chuck ’em back onto the plate when you go back for the next one! 

Enjoy!

What’s for dinner: Pork Chops in Wine Sauce

My sister-in-law, the future Dr. Merrett (who is also a future Mrs.) and I decided to get a little creative with dinner last night. Pork chops. Pork chops are an intimidating meat. We found a fun little recipe online featuring what I consider to be a fantastic main ingredient: wine. Other ingredients included sage, rosemary and garlic. We rubbed the pork chops with those tasties and a pinch of sea salt and pepper before placing them in a skillet with olive oil to cook for a few minutes on each side. Four minutes on each side, to be exact. Next comes the good part: add the wine. The recipe calls for 3/4 of a cup of dry white wine but merlot sounded really good to me. And don’t tell anyone but we might have added a lot more than 3/4 cup. Let it simmer in the wine for 25 minutes (we flipped them at the half point). During all that goodness, we boiled some peeled potatoes. Once the pork was ready the potatoes were too. Quite convenient. We simmered the wine sauce a bit and then poured it over the pork chop and potatoes. Oh, and also sprinkled sone parmesan on those potatoes. Remember, cheese makes everything better. Write that down. The potatoes are a bit bland which is good because the seasoning and sauce of the pork is insanely delicious. Trust me. The Dr. and I are happy our men weren’t around for tonight’s feast because it was unbelievably awesome and they might expect this ridiculously good food every night. Not possible. We are adding this to the “when I really need to impress people” recipe list. Plus, it was super easy to make, surprisingly enough. Just don’t tell anyone and they’ll be really impressed. Mumbles came home later and ate the leftovers. I think he loves me more because of this meal. Seriously.

Here are photos of each step and the final dish:

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Do you make pork for dinner? How do you make it? Leave your comments below!

Cheers!

What’s for Dinner: Sunny Day Salad

Last night was another one of those nights where I opened up the refrigerator, took a look at what was inside and just grabbed at what looked good.  Mumbles had been gone for a week and he’s a huge salad fiend so I knew there was going to be a whole lotta lettuce involved in his first dinner being back home.  And, since I missed him while he was gone and wanted to prove to him that he shouldn’t ever leave his doting wife for that long again, I decided to make the presentation impressive too.  Not only did the salad come out looking superb, I also donned my “honey, I’m home and don’t I look sassy in our kitchen makin’ you dinner” apron.  Okay, that’s not really what I call it, but that’s totally the message it sends.  It’s this here lovely from Anthropologie but in the half version (which totally defeats the purpose of an apron to protect your clothes, but looks super cute on, especially with heels. Write that down.).

So, here’s the final beautiful bowl of salad that we munched on together – two forks, one bowl.  [side note: should I ever have my own cooking blog/show/book, I will totally call it Two Forks, One Bowl. Cute, no?] 

Salad contents include: spring mix lettuce, celery, gala apples, sunflower seeds, pistachios (which i shelled myself because let’s be honest: isn’t it so much more gratifying?), two strawberry slices made to look like a pair of hearts [swoon, I know. although it doesn’t look like the hearts in this photo] and darling little yellow tomatoes sliced in half rounding the perimeter of the bowl like a frame, finished with a drizzle of grapeseed oil and balsalmic vinegar.  On the side I melted pepper jack cheese on some triangle slices of pita bread to help fork the salad goodies onto our forks and also because cheese really makes everything taste better. 

What’s for dinner

I subscribe to the cooking theory that adding what sounds good to you usually produces the most satisfactory meals. Mashed potatoes and shrimp don’t sound like they go well together? Well, they do to me! I made mashed potatoes with cream cheese to get them extra creamy and smooth, then sautéed shrimp with onions, red bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and lime all together in coconut oil for a light, subtle flavor. Cheers!

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