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What We’re Eating: 3/13 – 3/17

Happy Monday! It’s been a while since I shared a meal plan post, so I figured that would be a good way to kick off the week. (Plus, I haven’t had time to finish writing about any of the things I’ve been baking lately.)

Monday 3/13 – Roasted red pepper penne with sausage and salad
Tuesday 3/14 – Black bean and cheese quesadillas (I know it’s pi day, but we are finally going to see Hidden Figures that night, which means no time for baking.)
Wednesday 3/15 – Salmon, asparagus and couscous with cilantro and carrots
Thursday 3/16 – Chicken bruschetta bake, salad, applesauce and dessert (We’re having some new friends over for dinner, and this is my go-to “first time” meal. It’s easy, and almost everyone loves it.)
Friday 3/17 – Homemade pizza! I have been using my discarded sourdough starter to make pizza crust, and I recently discovered that I can throw the pizza dough in the freezer. Now I have a steady supply of pizza crust on hand, which is perfect for lazy Friday nights. I just have to decide if we’ll have BBQ chicken or pepperoni and sausage pizza.

In other food news, I baked a chocolate stout cake for a friend’s 30th birthday last week, and it was incredible. It was a dark, moist chocolate cake with delicious, stouty (is that even a thing?) undertones. It’s definitely a keeper. Of course, we were too busy having fun to take any pictures of the cake, so it’ll be a while before it appears here.

I’m still enjoying the sourdough adventure. Sourdough pancakes are becoming one of my new favorite things with the starter. King Arthur Flour has become my go-to source for new sourdough ideas, and I haven’t had a recipe fail me yet.

I’m working on cooking from cookbook closet more often as well. I pulled at least one new recipe this week from my Everyday Food archives, and I have a couple more bookmarked for next week.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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What We’re Eating: 1/30 – 2/4

January has been unusually busy for me this year. Between a work trip to Florida and a wedding in Ohio, I spent a lot of time NOT cooking this month.

I’ve been trying to make up for lost time over the last week or so though. I finally got the ball rolling with my sourdough starter (which we’re affectionately referring to as “Fester”), and it seems to be growing nicely. Last night was the first time I had to discard some of the starter as part of the feeding process, and I decided to use the discarded portion to make some cinnamon raisin bread. It’s rising now, and I can’t wait to see if it’s a keeper. Andy came home from work, observed the bread-making process and declared this sourdough adventure a “good thing.” 😀

We also celebrated Andy’s birthday this past week, and he wanted to stay in, rather than go out, so we invited Andy, Bethany, Judah and Sadie over for birthday burgers. I made the fried onion burgers from Cook it in Cast Iron, and we finished off the meal with the monkey bread from Bread Illustrated and vanilla bean ice cream. (The monkey bread, by the way, was incredible. I will never make monkey bread any other way again.) 

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Monday 1/30 – Ham and cheese pie and salad
Tuesday 1/31 – Salmon and root vegetable gratin  (I actually made this in November and froze half of it. I figure now’s as good a time as any to eat the second half!) 
Wednesday 2/1 – Pasta e Fagioli (New recipe for the week!) 
Thursday 2/2 – Chipotle chicken tacos
Friday 2 /3 – Homemade pizza (It’s Friday, after all!) 

It’s safe to say that I’m glad to be back in the kitchen again. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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New Reading Material

Look at what I have for two weeks!

I’ve had this on my library wish list for several weeks, and I finally made it to the top of the waiting list. I will probably read through it, and hopefully get to try at least a few recipes. I am so excited! If I’m on top of things, I will get a few pictures too. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Cast Iron Love

Two weeks!! 14 measly days! That’s how long the library let me have a copy of Cook It In Cast Iron from Cook’s Country. You can usually check out books for four weeks, but new books are only available for a “short loan,” especially when there are 10+ people behind you waiting to get their hands on the book.

Ugh. Sharing is not always my strongest point.

In true dorky fashion, I literally read through the entire book before I made anything out of it. (It helped that I picked it up from the library the night before a weekend road trip.) I thought all of the tips and techniques were helpful, and I can definitely see why you’d want a 12″ skillet for several of the recipes. I managed with my 10″ skillet, but the pan was just about overflowing with some things.

I did my best to make the most of the time that I had the book, and I think I did all right. We tried (in this order):

  • Chipotle chicken tacos (4 stars!) 
  • Skillet mac and cheese (3 stars from both of us; this is still my favorite mac and cheese recipe. It’s also a lot simpler!) 
  • Blackened chicken with pineapple salsa (5 stars from me; 3-4 from Andy, who may have met the only fruit salsa he’s hated in this dish. Lesson learned: Serrano peppers are too much for him. Whoops!) 
  • Hot fudge pudding cake (4 stars. It goes great with beer ice cream!) 
  • Sausage lasagna (5+ stars. We were so sad when the leftovers were gone… I almost licked my lunch dish clean at work the next day.) 
  • Baked brie with apricots and honey (5 stars, but I made the mistake of only making 1/3 of a batch…) 
  • Skillet chocolate chip cookie (5 stars. I mean, there was browned butter. Need I say more?) 
  • Mexican layer dip (2-5 stars, depending on who you ask. As written, it’s kind of spicy, thanks to the 1 1/2 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder, which means it’s hotter than Andy likes. However, it was well-received by half of the adults at taco night, and Andy said that if I scaled the heat back a bit, he would really enjoy it.) 
BakedBrie&Apriocts

Since I made a small batch of baked brie, I thought it’d be perfect in my mini-skillets.

I snapped a picture of a couple of the appetizer recipes, so I’m hoping to make those sometime in the not-too-distant future. Of course, there are recipes in there that I’ll probably never make (Meatloaf with mushroom gravy? Umm, no thanks. Paella? Not until I can get over the cost of saffron, thank you very much.), but overall, most of the recipes sounded like things we’d enjoy.

I did feel like some of the recipes could be streamlined to use fewer dishes, but when you consider the source, that really shouldn’t surprise you. I also wish the book had more of the science behind some of the recipe steps. I’m sure there’s a reason why I had to whisk the cookie dough for 30 seconds and then let it rest for 2 minutes before repeating the step two more times. I’d just love to know what that reason is!

If we rated cookbooks on the Andy scale, I’d give it a solid 4, which means that it might be worth getting a copy of my own someday. What I loved most though, was rediscovering how many things I can do with my cast iron skillet. It hasn’t gone back in the cupboard in two weeks.

Off-topic, have you seen the Apple commercial with Cookie Monster? THIS IS SO ME!! (Except for the iPhone part. I’m an Android girl.) My friends make fun of me for watching cookies bake through the oven door! I laughed so hard when this came on TV the other day.

Full disclosure: Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen has NO idea that I’m writing about their latest cookbook. I’m fairly certain that no one there even knows that this little blog exists. I wasn’t compensated in any way for my thoughts; I just happened to really enjoy the cookbook. 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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What We’re Eating 3/7 -3/11*

*We could also title this week’s menu “Cooking with Cast Iron.” The library let me borrow a copy of Cook It In Cast Iron, and I cannot wait to start trying some of the dishes. I tend to be a ‘try before you buy’ girl when it comes to cookbooks, since I don’t want to overrun the house with impulse buys, but this one is definitely moving up on my birthday wish list. (Are you listening, Andy?) Three out of my five meals are from the book, and I am hoping to have some time next weekend to try a couple of the desserts and breads as well. I mean, hot fudge pudding cake? Rosemary focaccia bread? Be still my beating heart.

cookincastiron
Anyway. Let’s focus on what we’ll actually be eating, rather than my mile-long dessert bucket list. 😉

Monday 3/7 – Corn and potato chowder with biscuits. This isn’t seasonal at all, but I have corn AND corn cobs in the freezer, so it’s the next best thing. (I figured that saving corn cobs for soup was just like saving chicken bones for stock.) And just like I did with the great garlic soup, I added spinach to make it a one-pot meal.
Tuesday 3/8 – Chipotle chicken tacos – CIICI #1!
Wednesday 3/9 – Skillet macaroni and cheese with salad – CIICI #2!
Thursday 3/10 – Blackened chicken with pineapple cucumber salsa and rice – CIICI #3!
Friday 3/11 – Breakfast for dinner! I’m going to try these chai-spiced waffles with some fruit. I may make some bacon to go with this as well, but if I was feeling really ambitious, I’d try the homemade breakfast sausage patties from the cookbook too.

And there you have it! .

 

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Being Grateful

I’m going to up front with you about this post. You won’t find a recipe here.

Don’t worry, I haven’t run out of new things to try or share. (Seriously, that list is never-ending.) I haven’t taken the time to pull pictures off the camera lately, and rather than leave you hanging, I thought I’d take advantage of a writing prompt that showed up in my inbox last week. I subscribe to Death to the Stock‘s writing prompts (and their free photos), and although this is my first time using one of the prompts, they always make me think.

The prompt was, “What seemingly small thing are you grateful for today?” And since I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to tweak it a little: “What seemingly small KITCHEN thing are you grateful for today?”

I mean, I love a lot of things in my kitchen.  Every time we have people over, the dishwasher becomes my new best friend. When it comes to baking, I’d be lost without my Kitchen Aid mixer. (Seriously. How did people make meringue before those things?)  On busy days, I can’t get enough of my crock pot. I wore out my first garlic press because we eat a LOT of garlic. And that cast iron skillet, well, it’s rapidly becoming my go-to pan for ALL THE THINGS. 🙂

So yeah. How would I pick just one thing? It’s tough, I tell you. Kind of like picking a favorite kid. 😉

After a little bit of consideration, I’m going with my Microplane zester. Want to know why?

MicroplaneZester

  1. It was a wedding gift from my grandparents in Maine. When we got married, Grandma and Grandpa gave us a basket of some awesome things, including my favorite kitchen towels and an awesome knife, and this zester was one of them. Every time I use it, I’m reminded of how much they love us. Awww…
  2. It’s sharp, which can be a double-edged sword (or grater, hahaha) in some cases. I have accidentally shredded my finger, but it can handle the hardest blocks of Parmesan cheese with no problem.
  3. I can use it for dinner OR dessert. It’s no secret that I love baking and all things sweet, but let’s be honest: I make dinner WAY more often than I make dessert. A pile of Parm for our favorite soup? Done. Finely minced/grated garlic for potatoes? No problem. Lemon zest for cake/frosting/cheesecake/cookies? Let me handle that for you. Honestly, I use the zester at least a couple times a week.
  4. PUNS! I’m the world’s biggest dork sometimes, and I get a kick out of the fact that I’m GRATE-ful for a grater. Or that it’s a grate great kitchen tool. (Haha… see what I did there?) Like I said, dork. 🙂

So there you have it – the first prompt-inspired post here on the Blue Plate Special. I promise I’ll be back soon with more food. I mean, you probably want to know all about the pie I baked last weekend. 🙂

(Full disclosure: Microplane has no idea that I’m writing about them. I have not been compensated for this post. In fact, I’m fairly certain they don’t even know this little blog exists. I just really like the zester.)

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Friendsgiving!

FriendsgivingI’ve said it before, but somethings are worth repeating: I have amazing friends. You know the saying “friends are the family you get to choose”? That’s how I feel about these people. No matter what we’re doing, two things are certain: We will laugh until our sides hurt or until we cry (sometimes both), and we will eat good food.

Last year we had our first “Friendsgiving,” and it was such a success that we decided to repeat it this year. I had the privilege of hosting this year’s event, and I used it as an excuse to break out all of my serving dishes and the never-used, real silverware!

I also had the honor of making the turkey and gravy. This was only the second or third time I’d ever made a turkey in my life, and I am glad to report that it was a success! I used a new recipe, and while the flavor was good, wrestling a 16 pound bird in and out of roasting bags full of two gallons of brine was kind of a hassle. It sloshed brine/raw turkey juice on Andy twice, leaving him to declare war. “I WILL CUT YOU,” he threatened at one point.

I tried a new gravy recipe too, which ended up being pretty salty thanks to our brined drippings. I added some water and extra apple cider to balance it out though, and now I’m hoarding the leftovers.

One of the best things about this dinner is the fact that everyone brought part of the meal, so no one was overloaded. (Overloaded with work, that is. We were all overloaded post-dinner.) 

The rest of our menu included:

Stuffing (made by Bethany of guest-blogging fame)
Green bean casserole (homemade, courtesy of Jackie)
Mashed potato puffs (thanks to Lacey)
Spinach salad (from Emily, the brains behind our cooking club nights)
Cranberry sauce (also from Jackie. This ended up being Andy’s favorite item. He literally ate it by the spoonful.) 
Sweet potatoes (I tried a crockpot recipe from Southern Living, and oh my goodness, it was AMAZING. I will make it again for sure.) 
Rolls (brought by Lacey, and the perfect vehicle for the herbed butter I made) 
French onion soup (Jackie’s husband, also an Andy, MADE HIS OWN BEEF STOCK/BROTH for this soup. AWESOME.) 
Chocolate cream pie 
Vanilla bean ice cream
Cranberry margaritas (Another brilliant Emily idea. I kind of wanted to drink the entire pitcher.) 
Apple cider (Thanks to Bethany for introducing us to another local beverage!) 

Of course, I was so busy having a good time that I didn’t take pictures of the food or the event, and of course, we forgot to get a picture of all of us (AGAIN!), but that’s OK.

I am so thankful for these friends and the investment that they’ve made in our lives. I really do love them like family. 🙂 I’m already looking forward to Friendsgiving 2016!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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