Back in the Kitchen

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe or, if I’m being really honest, cooked a full meal from scratch in our kitchen. Since one of our goals for 2014 is to cook more and eat out less perhaps it’s time to revive the ol’ blog with recipes and stories from our kitchen. Here goes nothing…

First, it helps to have a great playlist for motivation and impromptu dance breaks with a spoon as a mic. Oh wait. I’m the only one that does this? Forget I said anything.

But, if you do need a playlist, I found a great one. Unfortunately, I can only take credit for finding it, not for putting it together.

It will become my soundtrack for all cooking going forward, so if you’re coming over for dinner be prepared for music blaring from our front room so I can hear it in the kitchen.

My husband spent many of his formative years in a commercial kitchen and, since I apparently suck at getting all the dishes ready to serve at the same time, he is in charge of timing the dishes. He always succeeds in this area. Thankfully.

This week, we chose to cook grilled chicken with a basil-lemon drizzle and garlic rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes. We also had a side salad using a premade organic Italian salad mix and Newman’s Own Italian Dressing (because I was too lazy to whip up my easy scratch vinaigrette).

I started on the fingerling potatoes first and used this recipe from Designlovefest. These were the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever eaten and I definitely added it to our binder of go-tos for future reference. Adam kept saying how amazing they tasted and how perfectly cooked they were. #winning

While the potatoes were roasting away in the oven, I got started on the drizzle for the chicken and told Adam, ” Go forth and grill chicken”.

For the chicken, he seasoned boneless skinless chicken breasts with black pepper (he LOVES black pepper) and some chili powder, before grilling them to perfection.

For the drizzle I followed a recipe from Skinny Italian by (don’t judge) Real Housewife Teresa Giudice. This isn’t the first recipe I’ve made from her cookbook and it won’t be the last. This had a wonderful flavor that we both loved and it was quick to put together!

Basil Lemon Drizzle
from Skinny Italian

 Ingredients
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper (We added a bit more. Did I mention the hubs loves pepper?)

Directions

  1. In a food processor (we only have a mini-prep and it did the job), drop in garlic to mince.
  2. Add basil and pulse a few times to chop it.
  3. Add in the lemon juice, oil, and 2 tablespoons water and process until it becomes a thin sauce.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and pulse once more.
  5. Let stand at room temperature until ready to serve, no longer than one hour.

Yield: 6 tablespoons, about 4 servings

Once the chicken was grilled and the potatoes roasted, we plated our meals and ate up. Everything was delicious and we were quite happy to have leftovers, which we’re planning to finish off tonight 🙂

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Promises, Promises

Earlier this week, Adam asked me to make a promise about our impending future together. A promise that spawned from a fear of his.

His fear? That I would turn into a Real Housewife once we were married.

My promise? I won’t become a Real Housewife.

Let me tell you, his fear was very real and written all over his face. Meanwhile, I’m trying to stifle my laughter because he actually believes I might turn into one.

As you probably know, I cannot tear myself away from the Real Housewives franchise. I follow every season, can discuss the episodes ad nauseum with anyone that will listen and have references pop into my head at random times throughout my day-to-day life. Maybe this explains Adam’s fear for the future – our future.

Thankfully, after talking through it with him and getting to a point where he truly believes I won’t become one, we’re now able to joke about it. As further proof that I have no desire to become a Real Housewife, I thought I’d post my Top 10 Reasons here – should Adam ever need to be reminded in the future 🙂

10. I have no desire to have cameras shoved in my face, or my family’s face, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nor do I have any desire to have my phone tapped, my innermost thoughts broadcast to the world, or my “confessions” spliced, edited, and taken out of context. I prefer my spoken thoughts, as stupid as they may sometimes be, to be unedited and taken at face value.

9. Sure I like pets who wear clothes, gosh they can be so cute! But it doesn’t mean I’m going to drop thousands of dollars on a pure-bred purse dog just because I can. I’ll take shelter dog instead, they’ll be just as cute and loving.

8. I can think of about 1,000 other ways I’d spend 3.5 million dollars instead of on a child’s third birthday party. 2nd home in South Carolina, anyone?

7. I drive a Nissan. Not a Jaguar, not a Mercedes, not a BMW or Hummer. I drive your typical run of the mill 4 door sedan and the most fascinating place it takes me to during the week is work. Plus, I hear working for anyone but yourself or in a family business pretty much disqualifies you from being a Real Housewife.

6. I will never feel comfortable spending $3,000 in a single shopping trip on a pair of jeans, a sweater, and a t-shirt dress for a child who is still growing! That’s why Target was founded.

5. Reunions with my girlfriends won’t involve Andy Cohen asking us to relive the drama and tell him how we feel. Instead they’ll involve drama-free drinks at Happy Hour or the occasional trip to NYC.

Just making sure you’re paying attention.

4. I have no previous connections with the mafia. I have never been a drug dealer – or tried drugs for that matter. I also have no “Big Poppa” relationship.

3. I will never understand why women want frozen, expressionless faces. Plus, facial expressions can be important when effectively conveying sarcasm, which I plan to do a lot of for the rest of my life.

2. I have no desire to become a one-hit wonder singing about parties for which I cannot arrive on time, class for which money cannot buy, or closets from which freaks emerge. The only time I will try to be a recording star is when it required of me on whatever wii game I am playing at the moment.

1. I live in Arkansas. Rarely, if ever, do gay men prance around in high heels and hot pants then come to my house to fix my non-existent wig for a night on the town in the dry county I call home.

Confessions of a Real Housewives Addict

Full disclosure?

I’m addicted to the Real Housewives franchise of reality television.

As in, you say Orange County and I still shed a tear over the breakup of Jo and Slade. New York City? I immediately think of the crazy catwalk Ramona did in a fashion show. Atlanta? I think of the dysfunctional relationship of Kim and Big Poppa. New Jersey? Someone needs to get Danielle a straight jacket. Beverly Hills? The home of $60,000 children’s birthday parties. D.C? The party-crashing Salahis.

This obsession for the RH franchise is pointless, but it’s like a trainwreck, I. Can’t. Stop. Watching. Unfortunately, the effects of RH last much longer than the 1 or 2 hours it’s on each week. Take, for instance, this summer when my family drove through Georgia en route to Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We pass through Atlanta and the only thing that goes through my head is Don’t be Tardy for the Party.

Apparently, the trend for Real Housewives turned [bad] singers has continued. Countess LuAnn, from New York City, released Money Can’t Buy You Class this spring and Danielle, from New Jersey, released a collaboration with Lori Michaels aptly titled Real Close this summer. Fortunately, though not all the housewives are wannabe recording artists. Kandi, from Atlanta, was a member of the group of Xscape and is a Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter. She released Fly Above last fall. So there is some street cred mixed in.

But it’s not just my music collection that’s seen the effects of RH…

This obsession has also influenced what comes out of my kitchen, thanks to the Skinny Italian cookbook by Teresa Giudice, from New Jersey. While she’s most notably known for table-flipping in the general direction of Danielle and shoving Andy Cohen down during the reunion special this past season, she’s also a “writer”. Who knew?

I picked up the cookbook during a regular Barnes & Noble browse with Adam as a joke, just to make him uncomfortable as we meandered around the store. Then, I started looking through the recipes. Oh, the recipes. My mouth was literally watering as I read through the ingredients for each dish. I was all “Adam! Look at this!”, “This sounds amazing!”, “OMG I HAVE to make THIS!”. Begrudgingly he took a look, and, to my surprise, said “That does sound good!”

Of course, then I HAD to buy the cookbook and I’m so glad I did. So far I’ve made 3 dishes/sauces from it and all of them have been exceptional, but my favorite is the Arrabbiata (or Angry Sauce) for pasta.  It’s spicy, but not light your tongue on fire. It’s got a great flavor depth to it and tastes even better the next day as leftovers.

Arrabbiata Sauce
from Skinny Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. About 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in red pepper.
  4. Stir in Basic Tomato Sauce, lemon juice, and pepper.
  5. Bring to simmer.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until lightly thickened. About 15 minutes.
  7. Simmer up to 40 minutes, the longer it simmers the hotter the sauce.
  8. Stir in parsley just before serving.

Yield: approximately 3 3/4 cups, enough for 1 lb pasta

Basic Tomato Sauce
from Skinny Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz can of tomatoes, crushed or diced in their juices
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add basil.
  4. Simmer for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Yield: approximately 3 1/2 cups, enough for 1 lb pasta